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

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….

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When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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