Brexit Breakdown

FP Interrupted

Unlucky. That’s how March 15 is known. Beware the ides of March. William Shakespeare coined that now famous term in Julius Caesar (spoiler: It doesn’t turn out well for Julius). Looking at the past week from Westminster, the seat of the British government, things aren’t looking rosy. The British House of Commons rejected, once again, the “Brexit” plan that Prime Minister Theresa May brokered with the European Union. Even Shakespeare would agree that deserves an “oy vey.”

What’s all the to-do about anyway? Northern Ireland. There’s a clause in the current plan called the “backstop.” The backstop stipulates there will not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an independent country and an EU member. In order to keep an open border, with free movement and trade, the UK would remain in the European customs union until it and the EU negotiated a new trade relationship (see where this is going?). So, the UK would continue to be subject to EU rules and regulations. 👀 Yeah, that’s a big problem for those calling for a complete break with the EU. Hence, they rejected May’s Brexit deal this past week, for a second time.

Is there good news? Sort of. On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted against leaving the EU without an agreement. A no-deal Brexit is off the table. It also voted in favor of extending the deadline for withdrawing from the economic union to March 29. #Whew

What happens next? It’s a cliffhanger.

  • There have been calls to revoke Article 50 — an article in the Treaty of Lisbon (the EU constitution). Article 50 says that any EU member state has the right to quit the union and outlines the procedure to do so. That procedure includes a two year period for that country to exit the EU. If May revokes it, it would put Brexit to a screeching halt.
  • A second referendum is off the table, as British MPs voted against holding another Brexit.
  • With the extended deadline, May has to work out a new deal that will actually pass in parliament.
  • But, the EU has to approve the extension. They’re likely to do that, but only for a short time.

More on Brexit: 

  • Trick question: Who’s in charge of Brexit now? Therese Raphael dives in. (Bloomberg)
  • Theresa May has lost control of Brexit and now anything is possible, says Jane Merrick. (CNN)
  • Arron Banks, the most important funder of the pro-Brexit UKIP and Leave EU parties, has harbored concealed connections with Russian businessmen. This reveal throws light into an already crooked Brexit campaign, argues Anne Applebaum. (Washington Post)
  • Who should we blame for Brexit? Rosa Prince takes a look. (Politico)
Ethiopian Air tragedy 
Western reportage of the Ethiopian plane crash has been troubling. How might reporting on other tragedies in Africa shift if considered outside the narrow framework in which western outlets portray the continent? Hannah Giorgis discusses. (The Atlantic) #Preach, Hannah.
No country for old men… 
When Algerians heard that their president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, planned to run for re-election, they poured out onto the streets. Bouteflika is 82. He had a stroke in 2013 and hasn’t addressed the nation since. Yes, that begs the question, “Who is running the government?” A group of people who are clearly benefiting from Algeria’s oil and gas resources. Not so surprising then that thousands started to protest on February 22, the day of the announcement. This past week, Bouteflika (well, someone on his behalf) announced he wouldn’t run. You bet they had visions of the Arab Spring.
  • The fight for freedom isn’t over in Algeria, Nabila Ramdani writes. (Foreign Policy)
  • Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will not seek a fifth term, but the military will continue to dominate Algeria’s political system, writes Dalia Ghanem. (NYT)
  • For years, Algeria appeared impervious to the protests sweeping across the Arab world. No longer, says Malika Rahal. (Politico)
  • Algerian people won the battle, but the struggle is not yet over, writes Malia Bouattia. (Al Jazeera)

Trump very well might veto it. Still, the fact that the Senate passed legislation that ends U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is something to behold — and celebrate. More than 50,000 civilians have died and millions more are suffering from starvation.

  • Senate approves measure to force US withdrawal from Yemen, despite Trump’s veto threat. Deirdre Shesgreen reports. (USA Today)
  • Congress must use its “power of the purse” and defund the U.S. contribution to the Saudi-led coalition’s war efforts in Yemen, Claire Finkelstein and Nicholas Saidel write. (The Hill)

Read this week’s entire edition of FP Interrupted here.  Subscribe to FP Interrupted here.

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