FirstFT: Australia defends cancelling French submarine deal

Australia updates

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Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison defended his decision to renege on a submarine deal with the French government as acrimony intensified over Canberra’s decision to sign a new security pact with the US and UK.

Morrison said he did “not regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first” in comments that came just hours after France, which is fuming over being left out of the pact, derided the UK’s role.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, said Paris had recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra on Friday but deemed it unnecessary to do the same in London because “we know about [the UK’s] permanent opportunism.”

“Great Britain is in this case a bit like the fifth wheel on the coach,” Le Drian said on France 2.

In a sign that Washington is keen to de-escalate the worsening crisis, it emerged on Sunday that US President Joe Biden has asked for a call with President Emmanuel Macron of France to discuss the submarine deal

Thanks to all our readers who voted in yesterday’s poll. A majority disagreed with Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood that bitcoin would be worth $500,000 in five years. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. Energy prices will push up European inflation, economists warn Benchmark European gas prices have already tripled this year, even before peak winter demand kicks in. Norway’s Equinor, one of Europe’s biggest gas suppliers, said last week that high energy prices could last well into 2022 and warned of possible price spikes.

2. US steps up deportation of Haitian refugees from Texas camp The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to deport Haitians who have gathered in the Texas border town of Del Rio. The Department of Homeland Security announced this weekend it would “accelerate the pace and increase the capacity” of flights to Haiti after an estimated 14,000 people gathered under a bridge in the town.

3. Taliban tells Kabul’s female city workers to stay home In the latest restriction on Afghan women, those working in Kabul’s city government were told on Sunday to stay home from work, with the only exception being if they could not be replaced by a man. (AP)

4. Big tech companies snapping up smaller rivals at record pace Data from Refinitiv analysed by the Financial Times show that tech companies have spent at least $264bn buying up potential rivals worth less than $1bn since the start of 2021 — double the previous record registered in 2000 during the dotcom boom.

5. SpaceX returns four tourists to earth from orbit Elon Musk’s SpaceX recorded another first for the space tourism industry on Saturday, returning four private citizens from orbit in a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida. The three-day trip was the first to carry a crew composed entirely of space tourists into orbit.

Inspiration4 crew Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski, on their first day in space on Friday, © via REUTERS
Inspiration4 crew Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski, on their first day in space on Friday, © via REUTERS

Coronavirus digest

The days ahead

Duma election results announced Russia’s ruling pro-Kremlin party is likely to renew its supermajority as parliamentary elections when results are announced today. However, opposition parties and independent observers reported widespread election tampering. (FT, WaPo)

Canada holds snap election Polls show the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are likely to win more seats than the Conservatives but to remain well short of a majority when Canada holds its snap election today.

Climate Week NYC The Climate Group non-profit, along with the United Nations, will kick off a week-long event that aims to accelerate and assess progress on climate change ahead of COP26. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas levels are going “in the wrong direction”, a United Nations report card shows.

What else we’re reading and watching

Did Occupy Wall Street mean anything? Triggered by predatory home lending and excessive risk-taking, the 2007-08 financial crisis led to a debt crisis, mass lay-offs and the repossession of homes. It also birthed protests around the world. Here’s a look at the legacy of the movement, 10 years on.

A trio of Occupy images using the bull as a symbol of corporate greed
Looking at the little-known origins of Occupy, you begin to see the great uncorking of a deep-seated anger that still resonates today © Alexandra Clotfelter; Roger Peet; Adbusters

Women will redefine the labour market Are we moving towards the feminisation of work? And could this lead to a more balanced workplace and economy? Rana Foroohar explains why she believes the answer to both of these questions is yes.

Lunch with the FT: Tech investor Chamath Palihapitiya The controversial “king of Spacs” weighs in on his “long-term greedy” approach — and the dangers of taking investing advice from Reddit over lunch with the FT’s Miles Kruppa at the offices of Palihapitiya’s Social Capital fund.

FT writers’ biggest financial mistakes From bad interest rates on cards and hire purchase agreements, to living well without checking the costs, our experts explain how they learnt the hard way — as part of our Financial Literacy & Inclusion Campaign.

The high-risk business of music festivals Music events were already a precarious business, but after a record year in 2019, the pandemic brought outdoor events to a halt. In this film, the FT talks to organisers, bands and stage hands to find out whether they can bounce back.

Meet the journalist: Lilah Raptopoulos

Lilah Raptopoulos, host of the new FT Weekend podcast.
Lilah Raptopoulos, host of the new FT Weekend podcast.

Lilah Raptopoulos is the host of the new FT Weekend podcast. In this week’s episode, she speaks with Elif Shafak — the most widely read woman novelist in Turkey — about writing in countries without freedom of speech and her newest novel. Also, columnist Enuma Okoro explores the meaning of home and Tim Harford helps us let go of our to-do lists.

What themes and stories are you most looking forward to discussing on the FT Weekend podcast? I can’t wait to introduce people to the cast of eclectic geniuses that make up FT Weekend. They’re experts in the fun stuff: wine, film, interior design, behavioural economics. Next week, our travel writer Maria Shollenbarger is bringing us on the actual Orient Express. It’s pure fantasy.

What else are you listening to right now? Really Good Shares is a journey about recovery. It’s not a traditional interview show. It’s great. There’s also a special series about to launch on Wednesday from the FT’s very own Behind The Money, about ESG investing. I’ve heard a sneak peek and it’s excellent.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year? The Island of Missing Trees! By Elif Shafak. I know this may be cheating because she’s our guest on this week’s podcast. But she makes space for nuanced conversations between cultures with sensitive histories; conversations we almost never have. In this novel, it’s between the Greek and Turkish people of Cyprus. It’s about family history, inherited pain, and fig trees. I loved it.

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