May’s Brexit Leaves No One Happy
The prospect of anyone considering Brexit a success is looking increasingly slim.
The U.K. and the European Union go into the summer break far from any kind of agreement, with a March deadline fast approaching.
British Prime Minister Theresa May finally published her blueprint for the two sides’ future economic relationship last week and lost two senior colleagues and a vote in Parliament. She also was forced to make a series of humiliating concessions. Even so, Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign secretary, said yesterday her plan would leave the U.K. in “miserable limbo.” Her position is perilous, though she lives to fight on for now.
May’s room for maneuver is tiny because lawmakers from her party want a clean break from the EU while others think Britain’s best bet is to stay close. The U.K. and EU need a deal, at least on terms of the separation, by the end of the year to avoid Britain crashing out without a safety net. With doubts growing that they’ll get one, the rest of Europe is drawing up contingency plans.
Trump’s Russia zig zags | The White House struggled for a second day to explain Donald Trump’s posture on Russian election meddling, as administration officials fretted there may be no shaking public perception the president is too cozy with Vladimir Putin. Trump’s aides now view this as one of the worst moments of his presidency, our Washington bureau reports. Compounding concerns: The White House’s acknowledgement yesterday that Trump entertained Putin’s proposal to let Russian authorities pose questions to former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul.
Diverted cash | Trump’s protectionist economic policies are discouraging the flow of overseas money into job-creating U.S. investments amid fears about what the administration may do next, Reade Pickert and Saleha Mohsin report. That’s as the latest food stamp enrollment data suggest that – for some of the poorest Americans – it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record.
Election alert in Italy | Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s media onslaught made him the biggest winner of March’s election, and four month’s on he’s still not let up. The anti-immigration firebrand’s constant tweeting and soaring popularity are fueling speculation he could force a snap election to cement his grip on power.
Defining moment | Israel’s parliament passed a bill enshrining its Jewish character in law after fierce debate late yesterday, with 62 votes in favor and 55 against. Opposition deputies said the law, which defines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” would harm Israel’s Arabs – about 20 percent of the population. The bill downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with “special status.”
Fading shine | Euphoria that accompanied Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascension to the South African presidency is dampening. He initially won plaudits for a crackdown on graft, but sentiment has soured on problems including record-high fuel prices, Sam Mkokeli reports.
And finally … No detail was too small for Kim Jong Un during a flurry of visits to North Korean industrial sites, where he berated local officials for causing him “great anxiety” with delays and poor workmanship. He even ordered workers at a backpack factory to sew more sponge in the shoulder straps. The tour illustrates Kim’s need to be seen focusing on his impoverished economy as he looks to ease tensions with China, South Korea and the U.S. after declaring complete his quest to build a nuclear arsenal.