The Political Week in 5 Points

Jo Johnson, the junior transport minister and younger brother of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, has resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit plan. Although Jo Johnson, like his brother, resigned over opposition to a Theresa May Brexit plan, unlike his brother, he is a Remain supporter. Johnson the younger said that the Brexit campaign made a “fantasy set of promises” and the current Brexit deal fell “spectacularly short” of what had been promised and that it would be a “democratic travesty” to not hold a second referendum. Johnson told the BBC, “This is one of the most momentous questions we will ever face in our political careers… I know many are reflecting hard about the deal that’s looming and how they will respond to it. It’s up to (lawmakers) to take a stand, I’ve done so, if others feel that it’s right for them to do so then good on them.” The Johnson brothers said that, despite their differences with each other, they were both “united in dismay” at what was happening in the United Kingdom.

The DUP have sent a letter to Theresa May, in response to a letter the Prime Minister sent to the DUP about the Brexit negotiations. Theresa May informed the DUP in her letter that European negotiators were still pushing for the backstop, which would act as an ‘insurance policy’ to make sure that, if there is not an all-encompassing Brexit deal, there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland. In response, Arlene Foster and the DUP released a letter which expressed concerns that the backstop would result in a divergence of alignment between Great Britain and Northern Ireland — and reminded the prime minister that she had promised she would never agree to a deal which treated Northern Ireland differently than the rest of the UK. Arlene Foster said that Theresa May, “now has to decide whether she wants to proceed down this road where she won’t have the support of the ten DUP MPs in Westminster. She has to do the maths as to whether she can proceed without our support in parliament. That’s for her to decide as to what she will do next.”

In an another exhausting week in US politics, Americans (including yours truly) went to the polls on Tuesday for midterm elections. Although many Democrats had talked about a ‘blue wave’, in the end it was more of a ‘blue splash.’ (More on that here from the excellent Steve McGookin.) The Democrats won the House of Representatives, but lost the Senate. However, many races were so close that votes are still being counted: the Arizona Senate race, the Florida gubernatorial and Senate races, and the Georgia gubernatorial race have yet to be called.

There was a number of firsts in these midterms elections, including the first muslim woman in Congress, the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts, the first Native American woman in Congress, the youngest woman elected to Congress, the first openly gay governor — and a record number of women (over 100!) will serve in Congress next year.

It seemed like the elections had barely ended before Donald Trump was back in the news. On Wednesday, while the nation was still processing the election results, Trump announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had resigned. Trump and Sessions have been publicly at odds over Session’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. In his resignation letter, Sessions made clear he was only resigning at President Trump’s request — raising questions about whether President Trump has the authority to appoint an acting Attorney General, or whether he must go through the Senate confirmation process. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who has been a vocal critic of the Muller investigation, will now take over the DOJ until ‘early next year.’ Whitaker had written an op-ed for CNN in which he suggested the Russia investigation was “a witch hunt.”

The White House was also criticized for releasing doctored footage of a CNN reporter in order to make it look like he had struck a White House intern.

Emmanuel Macron hosted world leaders in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice signed on 11 November 1918. In a speech delivered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, the French President warned that the “old demons” of nationalism were resurfacing. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” he lamented. “By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values,” he added, in a thinly veiled rebuke directed at a number of other leaders assembled, including the American President.

In London, Prince Charles led the annual remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph. He was joined for the first time by the President of Germany, who laid a wreath. In Dublin, President Michael D Higgins led Ireland’s commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery: “Let us … on this day rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace and the support of those institutions that promotes and preserves the peace.” At Belfast City Hall, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, joined Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, to pay tribute to the Irish lives lost in the First World War, from the North and South.

Originally published at Northern Slant.



PhD’ing in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge via Queen's University Belfast via Stanford.

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Alina Utrata

PhD’ing in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge via Queen's University Belfast via Stanford.