Australia submarine deal, Europe after Merkel, Marks & Spencer closures, Christo's Arc de Triomphe


A "stab in the back", a "breach of trust". France's foreign minister is fuming after Australia's surprise dumping of a deal for 12 French diesel-power battle-ready submarines in favour of a new three-way defence partnership with the US and the UK, along with Washington providing the technology for eight nuclear-powered subs. The Pacific is becoming a more volatile place.


South Korea this week became only the seventh nation on earth to successfully test-launch a ballistic missile from a submarine. That's with an eye to North Korea. News of the alliance broke the day of publication for a long-planned Indo-Pacific policy paper by the European Union's foreign policy chief.

The grumblings in France over the Indo-Pacific follow misgivings over what NATO allies perceive as a rushed US-led exit from Afghanistan. Defence was on the menu as Emmanuel Macron hosted a farewell dinner on Thursday for Germany's chancellor of 16 years. Angela Merkel is also retiring as unofficial leader of Europe, particularly during the Trump years. With nine days to go until the election and after another candidates' debate, polls put the Social Democrats of current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz ahead of Armin Laschet, the uncharismatic successor to Merkel as leader of the Christian Democrats.

There are no regrets for leaving Europe at Number 10 Downing Street. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has chaired his first cabinet meeting since a major reshuffle this week. Among those out, a gaffe-prone education minister. Among those promoted: BoJo's partner in crime during the Brexit campaign, Michael Gove. Kicked upstairs is a foreign secretary who insists in no way did he play paddle ball on the beach while staying on vacation while Kabul fell. In Dominic Raab's place is Conservative Party base favourite Liz Truss, who rises from commerce and international trade. There are plenty of regrets over Brexit from many of Britain's flagship businesses. This week, the food and clothing chain Marks & Spencer, that stealth weapon of British soft power, announced it would close 11 of its 20 stores in France. M&S is unable to export enough British staples that Parisians secretly sneak, like cheddar cheese and curry dinners.

Finally, from beyond the grave, the ultimate pinnacle of two rags-to-riches artists. For the next two weeks, Paris's Arc de Triomphe will be wrapped up according to the instructions of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the pair who met in Paris and first started sketching the concept exactly 60 years ago. They had since given the same treatment to the French capital's Pont Neuf and the Berlin Reichstag. Now, finally, it's the turn of the monument that is home to the tomb of the unknown soldier. 

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain, Imen Mellaz and Laura Burloux.

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