Federal Politics

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Theresa May throws caution to the wind with early election bid

Every Monday to Friday I'll be delivering a personally-curated newsletter. Call it the double espresso of news – the morning news kickstart for busy people who want to know what they need to know before they get going.

1. May's gamble

May is soaring in the polls - the latest showing her 21 points ahead of Labour - the ineffectual opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn. [Nick Miller/Fairfax]

Her early election is politically clever in several ways. The election was due in 2020 and was frightfully close to the expected date of the official Brexit - around March 2019. Should it all go wrong, and a hard Brexit plunge the economy into any sort of crisis, the dangers to May are obvious and potentially fatal. 

Positive sentiment towards Brexit, as it currently remains - an idea with no inception or clear picture of inception - is actually increasing. One survey published on the weekend showed "dissatisfaction with Brexit is now at its lowest level since last November, with just 45 per cent opposed to leaving the EU." [The Telegraph]

If she can win a bigger majority May can stare down the hard Brexiteers in her own ranks and pursue what some might scoff is a soft Brexit. [Ed West/The Spectator] It has been reported that May has privately told pro-EU Tory MPs she favours a soft Brexit, an MP at that meeting confirmed this to me a few weeks ago. 

Then May can turn to her tougher test - negotiations with the EU - with an reinvigorated mandate. This was neatly underlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in the Commons and on Twitter.


Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has boldly described May's move as a "huge miscalculation." The irony of May saying now is not the time to hold a vote on Scottish independence but somehow okay to hold an early election no-one was calling for is not lost on the Scots. [BBC]

Some points to remember. Britain has voluntary voting and will have been to the polls twice in 12 months by the time of the election. Will turnout be strong if voters think May's got it in the bag? And while it's hard to find any commentator who thinks Corbyn is electable (let alone half the Parliamentary Labour party) it's worth keeping in mind that the polls were wrong for Brexit and in 2015.

2. Aus politics

Two of Murdoch's tabloids, papers you might expect to support a crackdown on overseas workers, are savage in response to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's attempt to "put Australians first."

The sector most reliant on the skilled visas is the IT industry. No surprises there. [Fairfax]

Philip Coorey reports the overhaul of the soon-to-be-defunct skilled 457 visa scheme is just the start. More anti-foreign sounding policies including handing potential new citizens their migrant P-plates. [Financial Review]

Simon Benson reports on the Treasurer's latest move - a foreigners tax to be included in the budget to be paid by businesses using overseas workers. [The Australian]

Tories cracking down on foreign workers? Sound familiar? It is. At last year's conservative party conference, Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd proposed shutting doors to foreign students and workers to stop them "taking jobs British people could do."  [My report/Fairfax]

Worth noting, Rudd was forced to retreat after a massive backlash from business. But that appears unlikely in Australia with widespread support for reform of the system, particularly in removing the pathway from skilled visas to residency. This is about identity, when the pace of cultural change is driving anti-migrant sentiment across the world. Michelle Grattan notices PM's constant use of "Australian values." [The Conversation]

The PM thinks Australian can be a global leader in cyber security. [Oped/The Australian] Greg Moriaty will run the PM's office immediately following the resignation of Chief of Staff Drew Clarke, a career bureaucrat. [David Crowe/The Australian]

3. Trump

Republican presidential candiadte Donald Trump wearing a white baseball cap.

President Donald Trump wearing a white "Make America Great Again" baseball cap. Photo: AP

From the Tories to Turnbull to Trump who completes the trifecta on the foreign worker crackdown with his executive order set to be signed on Tuesday local time. 

In the US its the H-1B visa program that's undercutting the local American worker. Trump's plan is called "Buy American, Hire American". Just like in Australia, its the IT sector most reliant on this visa category for finding workers. [CBS News]

4. IMF World Update

The International Monetary Fund's latest health-check of the global economy has yielded some surprising results with global growth expected to pick up despite the political shocks of Brexit and Trump, both of which have created uncertainty which the market is supposed to hate. 

But the IMF warns the global economic order is under threat, calls for renewed multilateralism and worryingly, says high income inequality, which is undermining the former, is likely to persist. [My report/Fairfax] [Jacob Greber/Financial Review]

5. French arrests 

Two have been arrested in France accused of plotting an attack ahead of this Sunday's first run-off in the French presidential elections. [Reuters]

Candidates from left:Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen and Benoit Hamon pose before the debate.

Candidates from left:Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen and Benoit Hamon pose before the debate. Photo: AP

The poll is looking to be a dramatic and close one, with no clear frontrunner. [Bloomberg]

6. Zuckerberg pledges to stop violent videos

The US gunman suspected of posting a video of himself shooting dead an elderly man on Facebook has killed himself. 

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social media company would do all it can to stop future violent videos from being posted. [Fairfax]

And that's it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

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