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Europe briefing: 5 stories to know about today

Europe briefing: 5 stories to know about today
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
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Here are the latest news and updates as they happened this morning.

1) Australia has a new prime minister

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Australian new prime minister Scott Morrison pledged a "generational change" in the Liberal party on Friday, as he seeks to end a destructive battle within the Australian conservative government.

Former treasurer under the Turnbull administration, Morrison emerged the surprise winner in a three-way challenge for leadership of the Liberal Party.

As the 6th prime minister Australia has seen in less than 10 years, Morrison inherits leadership of a coalition between the Liberal and National parties whose one-seat majority will have to be defended.

2) Ireland prepares for Pope Francis' visit this weekend

Pope Francis arrives in Dublin on Saturday for a two-day visit to Ireland at a time when the authority of the Catholic Church has been deeply damaged by sexual abuse scandals.

Protesters are expected to stage various demonstrations that call attention to what they see at the Church's failure to address sexual abuse of children by clergy members and cover-ups among the hierarchy.

3) Scottish Government confirms receiving harassment complaints regarding Alex Salmond

The Scottish Government has confirmed that it received two complaints in January regarding former first minister Alex Salmond, reported the Press Association on Twitter.

Salmond has denied allegations of harassment and said in a statement released on Thursday on his Twitter account that he's launched legal action against Leslie Evans, the permanent secretary of the Scottish government.

He said: “If I lose then I will have to answer to the complaints both comprehensively and publicly.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement that her relationship with Salmond made it " an extremely difficult situation" for her to "come to terms with," according to PA.

4) 7.1 quake strikes Peru

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Peru at its border with Brazil on Thursday.

The quake hit at a depth of 610km, said the US Geological Survey. No casualties were reported at time of writing.

5) Brexiteers angry at UK finance minister 'no deal' warning

Pro-Brexit lawmakers are angry at British finance minister Philip Hammond's warning that leaving the European Union without an exit deal could hit public finances.

In a letter published on Thursday, Hammond referenced forecasts made by his department in January, which showed that under a no-deal scenario, borrowing would be about £80 billion (€88.2 billion) a year higher in 15 years' time as the economy grew more slowly.

He also mentioned specific sectors and regions that would be hit the hardest.

The letter provoked an angry response from a leader of an influential group of pro-Brexit lawmakers who said the forecasts were wrong and a no-deal Brexit would not be as damaging as Hammond pans it out to be.

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