26 March 2019   Leave a comment

The Brexit saga has taken yet another strange turn. Conservative MP Oliver Letwin submitted an amendment which will allow Parliament to take a series of non-binding votes (called “indicative votes”) on a variety of options. British Prime Minister May opposed the amendment, but is passed 329-302 in a decisive repudiation of her authority. According to the BBC, these are some of the possible options:

Jonah Shepp offers even more options:

  • Another binding vote on the deal May negotiated with the E.U.
  • Asking the government to renegotiate the deal toward a specific outcome in mind, such as further changes to the Irish border backstop
  • Scrapping May’s negotiated arrangement in favor of a softer Brexit involving a Canada- or Norway-style trade relationship with the E.U.
  • A second referendum allowing the British public to decide what kind of Brexit they want, or if they would prefer to cancel Brexit entirely
  • Revoking the U.K.’s withdrawal notice and canceling Brexit entirely

The use of indicative votes is unusual, but not unprecedented. Shepp provides some perspective:

“In the Westminster system, the government usually sets the agenda for Parliament, deciding what gets voted on and when. The opposition and backbench MPs are given opportunities to set the house’s business on certain days, but the government still gets to decide when those days are. Letwin’s motion is unusual because it involves taking that power away from the government on a specific day, and against the government’s explicit wishes at that. While it’s not strictly “unprecedented,” Parliament hasn’t made a move like this in a very long time: The closest analogue in the past century is the Norway Debate of 1940, which led to the downfall of Neville Chamberlain’s war cabinet and ushered in the prime ministry of Winston Churchill.

“In her futile attempts to maintain control of the Brexit debate, May has recently avoided scheduling days for nongovernment MPs to take control of the agenda, fearing precisely what is going to happen on Wednesday: votes on proposals her government didn’t have any hand in developing and can’t necessarily deliver. Some of Letwin’s backers argued on Monday that May’s attempts to tightly control the Brexit agenda had forced their hand; Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said the house had been ‘prevented from doing its ordinary job’ by the government’s ‘straitjacket.’”

May’s tenure as Prime Minister is likely about to end. This latest vote indicates that she does not control her party at all.

Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has written a letter
to Spain’s King Felipe VI in which he urged both the king and the pope to “apologize to the indigenous peoples [of Mexico] for the violations of what we now call their human rights.” The Spanish horrific treatment of the indigenous peoples of what we now call Mexico is beyond question but the Spanish government has firmly rejected the call for an apology. The Guardian relates the response:

“‘The Spanish government profoundly regrets the publication of the Mexican president’s letter to his majesty the king on 1 March and completely reject its content,’ a government statement read.

“’The arrival of the Spanish on Mexican soil 500 years ago cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations. Our closely related peoples have always known how to view our shared history without anger and from a shared perspective, as free peoples with a common heritage and an extraordinary future.’”

This debate is worth conducting. The sins of empire need always to be remembered.

Thailand has been ruled by a military junta since 2014 after the military ousted populist leader Yingluck Shinawatra. The first election since that time was held on Sunday, but the Election Commission, whose members were appointed by the military junta, halted the publication of the results. The election was contested by a pro-military party, Palang Pracharat, and an anti-military party, Pheu Thai. Both parties are challenging the election because of evidence of fraud and manipulation, and it could be that the outcome will not be known for some time. Unfortunately, the election, which was supposed to bring stability to the country, will apparently only bring confusion and distrust.

Posted March 26, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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