Brexit is over, long live Brexit!

Brexit is over, long live Brexit!

At eleven o'clock this evening in London, the United Kingdom will officially escort itself out of the EU. After nearly half a century of an oft-contentious cross-channel relationship, Britain is now free to see other people. But what happens now? Is this really the end of the uncertainty and anguish that have gripped the UK since the 2016 referendum?

Not quite.

The UK is formally out of the EU, sure. But the clock is now ticking on a host of other issues.


Across the channel – The two sides still need to define their new relationship on a host of thorny issues, including trade, military and law enforcement ties, regulation, financial markets integration, and even fishing rights.

They have an 11-month grace period to work all that out. That's not a lot of time given the contentious issues involved. If nothing is agreed by December 31, then we'd be in the dreaded "no-deal" Brexit scenario, which would be economically damaging on both sides of the channel. Boris Johnson says he won't ask for an extension – which he'd have to do by July – setting up more high-wire politics as we lurch towards the summer.

Across the pond – After leaving the world's largest economic bloc, Johnson is eager to strike a fresh deal with the world's number one economy. But although the US is the UK's closest ally – a bond supported by their current leaders' mutual affection for populist messaging and awful hair – London and Washington have beefs. London recently bucked US demands to ban Huawei from building 5G networks in Britain, and Johnson says he's moving ahead with a digital services tax on US tech giants, despite Trump's threats to retaliate. Iran could also prove contentious: London, along with its erstwhile EU partners in Paris and Berlin, has said it wants the beleaguered Iran nuclear deal to survive, but Johnson has also called for a new "Trump Deal" to replace it. What side is he on?

Across the Irish Sea – Johnson also needs to manage fallout closer to home. His Brexit plan artfully avoids creating a potentially dangerous "hard border" with Ireland. But the fact remains that Brexit was not popular in Scotland or in Northern Ireland. Nationalists in both places want fresh referendums on whether to stay in the UK. Johnson has already refused to allow Scotland to call another independence referendum, and would likely do the same for any request for a Northern Irish "border poll" on unification with Ireland. The UK isn't about to fall apart, but over time these pressures will grow, particularly if the UK-EU negotiations become deadlocked later this year.

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt in every household, changing the way we live our lives. The pandemic continues to reinforce the drive for cooperation between communities, governments and businesses in order to combat the threat.

Microsoft responded to the pandemic in its home state through efforts like donating protective equipment, making boxed lunches for families and using technology to better understand the spread of the virus over the last year. Now, we're sharing six ways Microsoft is pulling together with the community to lend a hand to fellow Washingtonians in 2021 including helping with vaccination efforts. To read more, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Europe has been hit by a green wave in recent years. Green parties in countries as varied as Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden have made sizable electoral gains, with some now sitting in national governments.

The Green phenomenon seems to be gaining yet more momentum in the lead up to some crucial European elections (Germany, France) in the months ahead. What explains the green shift, and where might this trend be headed?

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Guilty: Eleven months after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, on a Minneapolis street corner, we finally have a verdict in the murder trial. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges: second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was celebrated by advocates for racial justice and police reform. Last summer, video footage of Floyd suffocating to death as he cried out "I can't breathe" galvanized anti-racism protests across America (some of which turned violent) that went global. We're watching to see if the jury's verdict gives fresh impetus to the nationwide movement for police accountability and broader criminal justice reform, both of which have been met with fierce resistance from law-and-order conservatives and police unions. And we'll also be keeping an eye on the sentence, as Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison for his crimes.

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120,000: Ukraine warns that Russia will soon have as many as 120,000 troops on its eastern border, a larger presence than when Moscow seized Crimea in 2014. Kyiv wants to join NATO to deter the Russian forces from invading the Donbas region, where about half the population are ethnic Russians.

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During a pandemic, the work of reporters around the world is particularly important to ensure transparency about the scope of outbreaks and the measures that governments are taking to contain them. But in many countries, press freedom has been declining since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Press freedom took a bit hit over the past year, as governments across the world doubled down on censoring media that criticized their handling of the pandemic, and locking up reporters for reporting the facts. Reporters Without Borders today published its annual World Press Freedom Index, which takes a microscope to every country, ranking the ability of its media to report freely and independently. Here's a look at how countries' scores have changed over the past year.

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on World In 60 Seconds (aka Around the World in 180 Seconds) and discusses Xi Jinping's message to the US, Russia's buildup at the Ukraine border, and Cuba's new leader.

What did you make of Xi Jinping's message to the US at China's annual Boao Forum?

Well, he didn't mention the United States directly, but he basically said that we don't accept hegemonic powers, we don't accept people that are setting the rules for other countries. Basically, consistently Xi Jinping saying that the Chinese want to be treated as equals with the United States. They're going to be rule makers for themselves. The Chinese political and economic system, every bit as legitimate as that of the United States. This is going to be a real fight. The American perspective is that the relationship between the two is going to be very competitive, whether it's a happy competition or an unhealthy competition depends on the Chinese. Xi Jinping's perspective is the Americans are not treating the Chinese with due respect. And that's going to play out on security, it's going to play out in climate, on the economy. I mean, you name it.

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One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike since March 31 over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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The Biden administration's much ballyhooed Earth Day Summit this week promises to be revealing. We're going to learn a little about what additional action a few dozen of the world's largest emitters are willing to take on climate change, and a lot more about which countries are willing to take such action at the behest of the United States.

Call it a situational assessment of the status of American power just shy of Biden's 100th day in office.

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