Brexit Vote Delayed: Your Tuesday Briefing

Brexit Vote Delayed: Your Tuesday Briefing

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While we’re tracking the turmoil around the British Parliament’s vote on Brexit, we enlisted Ellen Barry, our London-based chief international correspondent, to take over the top of your daily briefing. Let us know what you think.

Good morning.

This was expected to be a week of fireworks in British politics, as Parliament was finally getting a chance to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and Monday morning was spent in a jittery countdown.

“Right everyone, this may be the most exciting week of Brexit,” the legal commentator David Allen Green wrote on Twitter as the hour closed in. “Brace, brace.”

I had already left for lunch when it emerged, via multiple unattributed leaks, that Mrs. May had decided at the last minute to indefinitely postpone the vote rather than face what promised to be a humiliating defeat. The news so jolted the machinery of Westminster that one of the BBC’s political commentators lapsed into total honesty.

“We’re just standing here, trying to come up with something to say,” she said.

The delay has ushered in what may be a prolonged period of havoc. One red-bearded Labour lawmaker, angry at having been denied a vote, went so far as to seize the House of Commons’ ceremonial mace, a golden staff that represents the royal authority of Parliament. He was ejected from the chamber as his colleagues cried “No!” and “Disgusting!”

Mrs. May will travel to Brussels in the coming days in hopes of returning with concessions that will placate Parliament, but this seems to be a “last, desperate throw of the dice,” my colleague Stephen Castle reports. Her enemies are circling: Lawmakers from her Conservative Party could mount a leadership challenge, or Parliament could call for a vote of no confidence in her government.

The main thing keeping Mrs. May in her post, at this moment, is the lack of any palatable alternative.

At this point, it might be worth recalling how we got here. Remember Nigel Farage? He’s the boozing, chain-smoking commodity trader-turned-politician who campaigned for 20 years to get Britain to leave the E.U. In 2012, European technocrats shrugged him off, but our reporter Landon Thomas described Mr. Farage’s “damn the technocrats” rallying cry as “raw, profane and born of genuine conviction.”

It was not until 2016 that Mr. Farage’s initiative got on the national agenda. That was because of the Conservative prime minister David Cameron. He supported remaining in the bloc, but was so eager to capture the votes of the anti-E.U. faction in his party that he promised to hold an in-or-out referendum. The political scientist Tim Bale said Mr. Cameron “will go down as the person who miscalculated, taking us out of Europe almost by mistake, and then shuffled off the stage” in a “pretty ignominious exit.”

The cause was propelled by a great surge of nostalgia — for Britain’s seafaring past, its colonial reach and even its iconic blue passports — and 17.4 million Britons, or 52 percent of voters, opted to leave. Mr. Farage has since receded to the political sidelines. Last week, when Westminster was paralyzed over Brexit, Stephen Castle found him in “a scruffy office a couple of blocks away,” observing Mrs. May’s tribulations with disdain.

“There are some people who think this dog’s dinner of a deal is my fault, because I pushed for Brexit,” he said. “To which I robustly respond by saying this is not the Brexit, or anything like the one I would have gone for.”

I’m guessing the vote won’t be rescheduled until January. This prediction is based on inside knowledge that the British are dead serious about holidays, and would not plan to buy a roll of toilet paper, much less leave the E.U., on Christmas. I’ll sign off your special Brexit briefings for the time being. Wake me if anyone steals the mace. — Ellen


His hand was forced by a month of rampaging protests in Paris and other cities by the so-called Yellow Vests, a loose movement furious over the daily struggle to get by. Above, protesters watching the speech in Gaillon, France.

Mr. Macron, trying to shed his image as an insular and self-regarding emissary of elites, held a flurry of meetings with unions and others. He then reached out in his speech to strapped retirees and “the single mother, a widow, a divorcée” who “has no more hope,” offering a raft of relief proposals set to be further detailed today.

Some Yellow Vests welcomed the speech, but many others complained that Mr. Macron put forward half-measures, and analysts suggested he would have to do more to quell unrest.

Global warming: Rising ocean temperatures are devastating coral reefs while also giving rise to more resistant corals that can handle the heat, researchers found, which offers some hope for a besieged keystone ecosystem. But at international climate talks in Poland, the White House’s promotion of fossil fuels and rejection of climate science is drawing sympathy from countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The Amazon in peril: Indigenous territories and other protected lands in the world’s largest tropical rain forest are under mounting threat from illegal mining, according to a study. “The problem is worse than at any other time in history,” a person involved with the study said. Above, damage to protected tribal land from illegal gold mining in the Brazilian state of Pará.

Lobbying for the tainted: Washington lobbyists have carved out a lucrative if seamy niche representing clients that face U.S. penalties, including the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and lobbyists with ties to President Trump have especially benefited.

Laureates’ searing pleas: At the Nobel awards ceremony in Oslo, Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who were jointly awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their campaigns to end mass rape in war, condemned what they called the international community’s indifference to wartime sexual atrocities and urged greater efforts to arrest or punish those responsible.

A museum’s makeover: The Africa Museum on the outskirts of Brussels reopened after an expensive five-year revamp that aimed to shake off its racist and pro-colonial image.

British ruling: Vijay Mallya, India’s hard-partying, self-proclaimed “King of Good Times” who fled to Britain in 2016 amid fraud and money-laundering accusations, should be extradited to his native country, a court in London said.

The wind on Mars: NASA’s InSight lander captured the first sounds recorded from the red planet. Listen here. And much, much farther out — more than 11 billion miles from Earth — NASA’s Voyager 2 became the second human-made machine to leave the solar system, entering interstellar space.

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Stretching through the city’s Eighth and Ninth Arrondissements, the boulevard is named for Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who defined the look of modern Paris.

In the mid-19th century, Haussmann, pictured above, began a major project to redesign the city, under the direction of Emperor Napoleon III.

Haussmann was given immense power by Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his plan cleared away the overcrowded neighborhoods of central Paris, which had become a breeding ground for disease and social unrest.

The project, which also included new parks, a sewage system and other infrastructure, turned the city into an enormous construction site from the 1850s to the 1870s.

Met with increasing criticism, Haussmann was dismissed in 1870 and died 21 years later. But his work wasn’t finished until 1927, when the boulevard that bears his name was completed.

Chris Stanford wrote today’s Back Story. Penn Bullock helped write today’s briefing.


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