Thursday briefing: Blurred lines – will Trump act on Syria? | World news


Top story: Trump talks tough on Idlib chemical attack

Hello, it’s Warren Murray with the news you need this morning.

Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons to kill more than 70 people in Idlib crossed “many, many lines” according to Donald Trump. But what will the US president do about it? That, it seems, is where the line becomes blurred.

Having underlined his all-options-on-the-table rhetoric (which he has also directed at North Korea just now), Trump faces the condundrum of how to deliver, write Julian Borger and Spencer Ackerman. A military intervention would mean going directly up against Vladimir Putin, who is fighting on the side of Assad, and probably killing Russians. But failing to act would look weak.

Today, Trump also begins hosting Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. One option that won’t be on the table is golf. The Chinese president doesn’t play the game, and Communist party leaders have at various times denounced and even banned it. Trump wants to talk about reducing the US trade deficit with China, bringing back jobs and getting Xi to help with North Korea. Our experts’ take: given Trump backtracked over Taiwan, and has directed complaints but no concrete action at Beijing so far, it’s Xi who goes into this encounter holding all the cards.

Term-time holiday ruling – The supreme court is to hand down its ruling today on the contentious issue of whether parents can legally take their children out of school during term. Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, is to pledge that Labour will charge VAT on private school fees to fund school meals for all primary school children.

Payback time – A law forcing larger companies to reveal their gender pay gap comes into force…

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