THIS DEAL, NO DEAL, OR MORE TIME? A CRUCIAL BREXIT WEEK

The economic future of the UK – and the political future of PM Theresa May – (once again!) hang in the balance this week as British lawmakers take up three big Brexit votes.


Tuesday – "Take it or leave it": Today Parliament will decide whether to approve May's existing Brexit deal – yes, essentially the same one that lawmakers crushed by a historic margin of 230 votes back in January. The one that ran aground in part because it would allow the UK to stay closely aligned with the EU until a solution can be found to the Irish border question. No one we know thinks the deal will pass today, but the margin of defeat matters. If it's huge, that would spell the end of May's deal altogether and might even push her towards resigning. A narrower loss, meanwhile, would at least leave open the possibility that she could go back to Brussels and say "look, we're close, work with me" though the EU seems disinclined to allow that. May reportedly secured some minor concessions from the EU late yesterday evening, but it's not clear if those are enough for her to claim real progress towards a better deal.

Wednesday – "Deal or no deal?": If the deal vote is a blowout loss, then May will ask Parliament for a second vote on whether it can live with so-called "no-deal Brexit", one in which the UK hurtles out of the EU with no economic transition agreements at all. Given how economically disruptive that would be, odds are most lawmakers will vote against it.

Thursday – "Can I get a minute": That, in turn, would lead to a third vote: whether to extend the current "Brexit" deadline of 29 March, giving officials more time to sort out the issue.

We'll be watching this story all week….

Last week, in Fulton, WI, together with election officials from the state of Wisconsin and the election technology company VotingWorks, Microsoft piloted ElectionGuard in an actual election for the first time.

As voters in Fulton cast ballots in a primary election for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates, the official count was tallied using paper ballots as usual. However, ElectionGuard also provided an encrypted digital tally of the vote that enabled voters to confirm their votes have been counted and not altered. The pilot is one step in a deliberate and careful process to get ElectionGuard right before it's used more broadly across the country.

Read more about the process at Microsoft On The Issues.

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its "technological sovereignty" by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.

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Communal violence in Delhi: Over the past few days, India's capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades. This week's surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India's Muslims and the law's Hindu nationalist defenders. Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday. We're watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government responds – Delhi's police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.

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Ian Bremmer's perspective on what's happening in geopolitics:

What are the takeaways from President Trump's visit to India?

No trade deal, in part because Modi is less popular and he's less willing to focus on economic liberalization. It's about nationalism right now. Hard to get that done. But the India US defense relationship continues to get more robust. In part, those are concerns about China and Russia.

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27,000: The Emir of Qatar has decreed a $27,000 fine and up to five years in prison for anyone who publishes, posts, or repost content that aims to "harm the national interest" or "stir up public opinion." No word on whether the Doha-based Al-Jazeera network, long a ferocious and incisive critic of other Arab governments, will be held to the same standard.

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