John Bercow rules prime minister cannot put the same Withdrawal Agreement to a third vote

The British government’s hopes that it might somehow be able to navigate a way through the Brexit maze were dashed on March 18 when the speaker of the House of Commons ruled that British Prime Minister Theresa May could not put her Withdrawal Agreement to a third vote unless there were substantial changes.

And, quite astonishingly in a country that prides itself on keeping the monarchy out of politics, one of the few ways in which the government could overcome this block to its plans would involve a highly symbolic presentation by Queen Elizabeth II. 

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Amid the chaos over Brexit, few have noticed the quiet, but steady, progress on the transatlantic trade policy agenda. The European Parliament voted on March 14 against a resolution that called on European Union member states not to endorse negotiating mandates that authorize the European Commission to start talks with the United States. The defeat of that resolution sets the stage for a productive spring season of trade talks between the United States and the EU that focus on non-tariff barriers, as we recommended in August 2018.

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Amid continued criticism from US President Donald J. Trump about low defense spending levels in NATO countries, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said France will “do our best, along with the Europeans, to take a larger share of the burden.” But, she continued, “we will call it ‘autonomy,’ and we will count on you to hear in this word nothing [other] than the bonds of a healthy, independent, and robust friendship.”

Despite concern about low European spending, Trump has also been critical of calls for European nations to form a common European defense force or strengthen their domestic defense industries. When French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “true, European army,” on November 6, Trump lambasted the idea, suggesting that it was an effort to “protect Europe against the US.”

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Many view China’s Belt and Road Initiative as the most geoeconomically significant infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan. Promising alternative trade routes, abundant capital flows, and advanced infrastructure to the developing world, the program has scaled significantly since its inception in 2013.

Standing at the crossroads of Eurasia, the Arab Gulf states and broader Middle East are an important link between the economies of East Asia and Western Europe.

Yet the region’s chronic and destabilizing conflicts pose a challenge for Beijing, which has distanced itself from entangling alliances outside its core periphery. In the Middle East, China will find it much harder to invest neutrally, especially within the context of the Saudi-Iran conflict and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) dispute. In the case of the former, China is Tehran’s key economic benefactor, with sanctions now being re-imposed. With Iranian oil locked out of European and US markets, the country’s reliance on China and India has been exacerbated.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Italy and France next week amid a European Union firestorm over the dangers of rapidly growing Chinese trade and investments – particularly regarding next-generation telecom technology – and intensifying divisions among its members about how to deal with them.

Western media coverage has understandably focused on the unfolding Brexit drama in London, where British lawmakers failed to agree on a viable path forward. However, what went under-reported was that at the same time the EU took its most significant steps yet – though belated and insufficient – to address China’s increasingly assertive and state-subsidized push into Europe.

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An opportunity arises from the British Parliament having voted to delay Brexit. If the British government gets approval from the European Union next week for an Article 50 extension, the months ahead should be used to finally get to the truth about the opaque sources of money spent in the 2016 referendum before implementing its results.

This will only happen if British politicians and investigators prioritize quickly getting the public more conclusive answers. And it is important because the evidence revealed thus far raises the suggestion that the 2016 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the EU was targeted by a foreign adversary violating British sovereignty to undermine its democracy.

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Tanks and armored fighting vehicles have proven time and again that they can be the difference between victory and defeat on the battlefield. Nobody knows that better than Sergeant 1st Class James Pilkington, who commands a platoon of Tennessee National Guard combat engineers helping to protect NATO’s eastern flank in Poland.

Pilkington’s Berserker Troop platoon has been training with Polish soldiers in the huge Bemowo Piskie Training Area of northern Poland for several months. The US-led battle group in Poland, which includes US and Polish troops, also has British, Romanian, and Croatian soldiers.

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Representatives of Venezuela’s interim government, at the Atlantic Council in Washington on March 14, unveiled their plan for the reconstruction of their country, which has for months been mired in a worsening humanitarian, political, and economic crisis.

Daniel Sierra, a public policy adviser for Venezuela’s interim government, said that the plan—Plan País—will focus on resolving five key challenges: the humanitarian crisis, rebuilding the economy, regaining security and the rule of law, restoring public services and utilities, and strengthening the institutional capacity of the state after years of political purges by the regimes of Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

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MPs vote to seek to delay departure from the European Union

British Prime Minister Theresa May finally secured a key parliamentary victory on March 14 that strengthened the prospect she will eventually be able to get parliamentary approval for her deal to take Britain out of the European Union.

But the price she has had to pay is that Britain will seek a three-month extension to its planned exit date on March 29. And in that time, not least as a result of an impassioned intervention by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, pressure to hold a new referendum on whether Britain should end its forty-six-year membership of the world’s biggest trading block is expected to grow.

Moreover, while the government will now formally seek an extension to Article 50, the mechanism that sets the withdrawal date, it is for the twenty-seven remaining EU member states to decide whether to agree such an extension, and even one rejection would be enough to veto it.

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In an exclusive interview, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) says US role in NATO has been ‘worth every penny’

There is a “renewed resolve” in the US Congress “to reinforce NATO and its mission, to rededicate ourselves to meeting certain goals like the 2 percent goal for defense spending, and to send clear and unmistakable messages to Vladimir Putin’s Russia that the physical compromise of sovereign territory will not be tolerated and that Article 5 is alive and well,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA).

Proof of this bipartisan congressional resolve Connolly talks about is evident in the invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress in April.

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