Vox Sentences: You Brexit, you bought it

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Theresa May’s Brexit deal is struck down in Parliament; Algeria’s president won’t seek a fifth term.


UK Parliament rejects May’s Brexit deal

Thomas Niedermuelle/Getty Images
  • The UK Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday as the March 29 leave deadline nears. May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker established last-minute addendums for the deal on Monday night, including a legal framework for a temporary Irish backstop, but lawmakers once again voted down the deal 391 to 242. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • What is — and isn’t — the “Irish backstop”? Briefly, it’s the issue holding up Brexit negotiations, but it’s extremely important for UK-EU relations going forward. Ireland is in the EU and Northern Ireland is part of the UK. The backstop is an assurance that no physical barrier will be established between the EU and UK until a final agreement between Brussels and London is reached. Basically, the UK is tied to the EU customs union for a period of time — but Brexit hardliners fear the backstop could last indefinitely. [NYT]
  • If the deal had been accepted, Brexit would stay relatively close to schedule and proceed accordingly. Now, the UK will vote this week on whether to delay Brexit or leave the union on schedule with no deal. If the measure to delay were approved, a final deal vote would likely occur in June. [Bloomberg / Alex Morales, Tim Ross, and Kitty Donaldson]
  • This isn’t May’s first defeat — and she warned MPs that merely extending the Brexit deadline won’t protect lawmakers from the problems at hand. May’s political power is on the line, and now Brussels probably won’t help May much more. EU lawmakers responded that the vote was regrettable and the solution was now up to London to determine. The British pound fell 0.52 percent following the vote. [Financial Times / Dan Thomas, Naomi Rovnick, and Mark Odell]
  • Is the vote a win or loss for the EU? It’s hard to tell. Brussels mostly stood its ground on the backstop. But if Parliament votes to delay the departure date until the summer, the UK would have to participate in the May 2019 European elections. Leaders of EU member countries will meet next week and likely discuss terms of a delay. [Politico Europe / David M. Herszenhorn]
  • UK citizens are preparing for the worst-case scenario: a no-deal crash ending between the UK and the EU. Citizens are stocking up on essential commodities, food, and medicine following warnings about supply chain disruptions that may even lead to food security issues. The queen is also scheduled to evacuate town on the day of the deadline. [Vox / Jessica Furseth]

After 20 years, Algeria will get a new president

  • Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in a statement on Monday that he won’t seek a fifth term and there will be no election on April 18, 2019. The announcement is a shocking reversal of officials’ declaration last week that the ailing 82-year-old who has led the country since 1999 would participate in the election. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Recall that since February 22, thousands of young people have demonstrated across Algeria, France, and the US to demand that Bouteflika not run. People celebrated the president’s ceding of another term, even though Bouteflika did not provide a timeline for the delayed election date. [Al Jazeera]
  • These were the largest demonstrations in Algeria since the Arab Spring in 2011 — and no violence marked the gathering of young people demanding the power circle around Boutlika change. The president has not given a public address since 2013, when a stroke paralyzed him and left him nearly mute. A group of elite business, military, and political leaders run the government in his name. [NYT / Adam Nossiter]
  • And that power is already starting to change. Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia also announced his resignation. The interior minister will replace Ouyahia and help establish a new government. This shift is relatively recent; last week, Bouteflika said he would step down only if he were reelected, but his mind may have changed after 1,000 judges refused to oversee the election if the incumbent president were a candidate. The military also added pressure by siding with the demonstrators’ cause. [BBC]
  • A national conference is next, at which a new election date will be chosen and a new constitution drafted. Bouteflika may receive backlash for selecting the successor for prime minister — and delaying democratic elections with no firm date. [AP / Aomar Ouali]

Miscellaneous

  • What does it take to get into college today? Fraud, apparently. The Justice Department charged 50 people, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, in connection with alleged bribery and cheating to get their kids into college. [NYT / Jennifer Medina and Katie Benner]
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 presidential election is coming, but it’s likely to disappoint anyone expecting to hear a long account about President Trump. Some information may not even be made public immediately. [Atlantic / David A. Graham]
  • More than 10 countries have grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 — the US not included. The plane has crashed twice, once in Indonesia last October and again outside Ethiopia’s capital city on Sunday. Aviation officials in the US said the frequently used plane is airworthy despite the deadly crashes. [BuzzFeed News / Tasneem Nashrulla]
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods is pulling firearms from 125 stories. The brand has already seen declining sales as shoppers opt for online orders, but the choice to cut guns from store inventory is adding to losses. Dick’s CEO announced the company would change its policies regarding gun sales after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last year. [WSJ / Sarah Nassauer]
  • The impact of air pollution varies along racial lines. According to a new study, pollution is caused mostly by white consumerism but inhaled more by black and Hispanic Americans. Researchers focused on consumer spending across economic sectors to identify inequity in exposure to pollutants. [NPR / Jonathan Lambert]

Verbatim

“It’s not only economic power that we need to worry about from the Amazons of the world — we have to worry about their political power as well.” [2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her proposal to break up Facebook, Amazon, and Google]


Watch this: Why Republicans failed to fit taxes on a postcard

For years, Republicans have proposed making the tax code so simple that Americans could file their taxes on a single postcard. [YouTube / Madeline Marshall and Matthew Yglesias]


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