Morning headlines: Wednesday 17th October 2018

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No guarantees for Brits in Finland if Brexit deal fails

The Finnish government can’t guarantee that British nationals will have an automatic right to stay in the country if Britain exits the EU without a deal. Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) says that Finland “wants to be open and smoothly accessible for Britons in all circumstances” but in the event that Britain leaves the EU without a deal in place about future relations, Brits in Finland would have to re-apply to remain here – even if they are already legal residents. “The starting point is that in a no-deal situation Britons in Finland should apply for residence permits for third-country nationals” says Mykkänen. His admission leaves open the possibility that Brits who have to re-apply for residency might have their applications rejected, and be forced to leave the country. Officials at the Interior Ministry concede that up to now, not much thought has gone into the scenario of what should happen to more than five thousand British passport holders who currently live and work in Finland. Read more about the latest Brexit impact in our original story here.

Red carpet welcome for Kazakh strongman President 

President Sauli Niinistö is hosting the Kazakh President in Helsinki today for an official visit. Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in power since 1990 and during that time has been accused of running a regime with widespread human rights abuses, rampant corruption, lack of democracy and restrictions on freedom of the press. Still, Finnish foreign policy norms mean that officials prefer to engage directly with regimes like Kazakhstan rather than ignore them, and that means putting on all the pomp and ceremony of an official welcome at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. “The Finnish foreign policy is based on the understanding that Finland can be more influential in promoting its goals via dialogue, and face to face meetings, also at a high political level, rather than via distancing itself from regimes that are not sharing its values” explains Teija Tiilikainen from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Prime Minister faces no confidence vote today

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is facing a no confidence vote in parliament today, a move that he’s engineered himself to shore up support for controversial new proposals that make it easier for small businesses to fire workers. Opposition parties and trade unions are against the new rules, and opinion polls show that members of the public are split down the middle on it. Sipilä’s government has already had to backtrack on some of the plans, but the PM believes that if he wins a vote of confidence in parliament, unions might stop a wave of protest strikes which have hit the country in recent weeks.

Wednesday morning weather

It’s an overcast start to Wednesday morning for the whole country, with rain forecast along the Ostrobothnia coast. There’s a mix of cloud cover and fog, with the best chance of sunshine in central Lapland. Temperatures range from +12°C in the south, to zero in parts of Lapland and the eastern border.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 17th October 2018 / Credit: FMI