PM: “Willing to be flexible” with Britain over Brexit
The European Council has given Britain a few week’s extension for Brexit as political uncertainty continues in that country over when and how to leave the European Union. After a day of negotiations in Brussels, late Thursday night the Council agreed to extend the deadline for Brexit until 22nd May but only if the British parliament approves the withdrawal agreement next week. If that doesn’t happen, then the Brexit departure date is brought forward to 12th April – the last possible day to stay in the EU without committing to holding European Parliament elections. At that time Britain would have to say what it’s going to do next or leave the EU without a deal. Speaking in Brussels after talks, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) said “we are willing to be flexible because a [hard Brexit] is not in the interests of anyone. We are now expecting decisions from Britain”.
Court increases sentence for Finns Party MP
The Helsinki Appeals Court has increased the sentence for a Finns Party MP this morning, convicted of a violent drunken assault against a female Member of Parliament. Teuvo Hakkarainen, who hit the headlines again this week with anti-immigrant slogans on the side of his car, was initially sentenced to pay 45 day-fines for the attack on National Coalition Party MP Veera Ruoho, which happened after a Finns Party Christmas bash. This has now been increased to 80 day-fines by the Appeals Court. Hakkarainen says he has no memory of trying to force himself on Ruoho – who was not at any party, and just working in the parliament building at the time – nor does he remember grabbing her by the neck, he claims. A call from prosecutors for a conditional jail sentence was not upheld. Hakkarainen faced virtually no sanctions from the Finns Party for his assault and criminal conviction, and is running as a Finns Party candidate in the upcoming elections.
Stockmann’s CEO quits
The CEO of Stockmann Group, Finland’s high profile department store chain, has quit to move to a new job outside the company. Lauri Veijalainen has been in his role since 2016 and before that worked in other roles within Stockmann including running the international operations. He started his career with the company in 2010. The Board of Directors says it will immediately start looking for a new CEO.
Friday morning weather
It’s a very bright start for almost everywhere in the country on Friday morning. The exceptions are a few places on the eastern border with some cloud cover and chances of snow. Otherwise, sunshine everywhere else, with temperatures ranging from -6C in Lapland to +1C in Central Finland, +2C in Turku and Tampere, +1 in Lahti, Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, and up to +3C in Hanko and Åland.