The political week in 5 points

UK Parliament (finally) holds meaningful vote on Withdrawal Agreement; it fails

On Tuesday, the House of Commons finally held its “meaningful vote” on the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK government and the EU. The agreement had been widely expected to fail, and it did so in historic proportions, being defeated by 432 votes to 202. Three of the four amendments selected to be voted on in tandem with the main agreement were withdrawn, leaving only a proposal that would have given the UK the right to terminate the backstop unilaterally. (It failed 24 to 600.)

Theresa May’s government has three working days to propose Plan “B” to the House of Commons (until Monday 21 January). The EU have said that they will not re-negotiate the agreement. A number of things could happen next: a no deal Brexit, an extension to the Article 50 deadline, a people’s vote, or a general election (and probably a number of other things no one could have predicted).

A number of prominent Germans wrote (what I think is an adorably sweet) open letter to the UK asking them to consider cancelling Brexit.

“After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us,” the letter read. “This we, as Germans, have not forgotten and we are grateful . . . Britain has become part of who we are as Europeans. We would miss the legendary British black humour and going to the pub after work hours to drink an ale. We would miss tea with milk and driving on the left-hand side of the road. And we would miss seeing the panto at Christmas. But more than anything else, we would miss the British people — our friends across the Channel. Therefore Britons should know: from the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay.”

(I’m not crying, you’re crying.)

Theresa May wins vote of no-confidence (again)

Twenty-four hours after Theresa May lost her meaningful vote, Parliament voted on a motion of no-confidence in the government. May won the no-confidence vote 325 to 306. Notably, rebel Tory MPs and the DUP (who the day before had voted against her Brexit plan) voted for the Prime Minister.

Theresa May addressed the nation from outside Number 10 that evening, saying that she would speak to all parties. May said she will, “continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union.” She also said that she regretted that Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t spoken to her yet.

A car bomb explodes in Derry

On Saturday night, a car bomb went off in Derry outside a courthouse on Bishop Street. Police were given a 10 minute warning before the explosion, and there were no casualties. Two men in their early 20s have been arrested by the PSNI. The Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that the New IRA was the main line of inquiry.

“The attackers failed to kill or injure anyone,” Hamilton said. “The people responsible for this attack have shown no regard for the community or local businesses. They care little about the damage to the area and the disruption they have caused.”

The attack prompted widespread condemnation from across the board. Foyle Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion said, “Derry is a city moving forward and no one wants this type of incident. It is not representative of the city. I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it to the police.”

Nancy Pelosi postpones State of the Union, Trump sabatoges her trip to Afghanistan

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued a letter telling Donald Trump he could either submit the annual State of the Union Address (scheduled for 29 January) in writing, or re-schedule it when the government is open due to security concerns. Many government employees including those who work in security are currently furloughed. The government shutdown is about to enter its first month.

Donald Trump has said he is still thinking about the request, but later issued a statement in which he revoked the military planes for Nancy Pelosi’s trip to oversee troops in Afghanistan (as well as a number of other international locations). Pelosi and team were still planning to make the trip on commercial flights, but ultimately had to call it off for fear that Trump’s public announcement of their location had heightened the security risk. Nancy Pelosi did not stay in Washington as Trump recommended she did — I can confirm my very own mother spotted her at the Women’s March in San Francisco.

BuzzFeed issues report on US president, Special Counsel’s office disputes it

On Thursday, Buzzfeed published an explosive report asserting that Trump’s former personal attorney Michel Cohen had told special counsel investigators, “after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations [for a Trump development project in Moscow] ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.” If true, this would amount to an impeachable offense.

However, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a rare public statement in which they said parts of the BuzzFeed story were “not accurate.” “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” a spokesman for Mueller’s office said.

BuzzFeed responded saying, “We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.”

President Trump said he ‘appreciated’ Mueller’s response to BuzzFeed report.

Originally published at Northern Slant.



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Alina Utrata

Alina Utrata


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