(In)Decision Time In The UK?

(In)Decision Time In The UK?

Today, the British parliament will finally decide whether to support or reject the EU-exit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May's government has painstakingly negotiated with the European Union.


If it feels like we've been here before – we have. Last month, May postponed this very vote after it became clear that her plan was headed for defeat.

Since then she has weathered a Tory Party no-confidence vote, but there's little to suggest that her deal – which is too moderate for hardline Brexit supporters while also being too far-reaching for Brexit opponents – has any better prospects this time around.

Roughly 100 members of her own Tory Party are rumored still to oppose it. But if the UK hurtles out of the EU on 29 March without a deal, the economic effects on both sides of the English Channel could be severe. The clock is ticking.

So if May's deal is crushed today, as it looks like it will be, what would come next? There are four main scenarios:

Extend and Renegotiate May has begun preparing the groundwork to extend the Brexit timeline beyond March 29 and tweak the deal further. Would the EU agree to such a request? Growing political troubles in France and Germany have made the continent warier of allowing a "no-deal" Brexit, meaning that European leaders might soften their earlier resistance to reopening negotiations. But even if Brussels were to approve an extension, Mrs. May would still be stuck with a domestic quandary: with her Tory Party split over Brexit, she would face pressure to try and peel off votes from the opposition Labour Party in order to win approval at home for any new deal.

A Second Referendum A defeat today would bolster calls for a second Brexit referendum. While May has ruled out such a vote, many within her Tory Party believe it's the only way to clarify what Britons really want from Brexit. This path has its fair share of landmines though: who, for example, gets to decide what specific question is presented to British voters in a second go-around? How would the result affect the current Brexit timeline? And after a majority of British voters (with large turnout) supported Brexit in 2016, would a do-over undermine trust in UK democracy?

Early elections If May's deal is buried today, the Labour Party plans to immediately put forth a parliamentary vote of no confidence to topple her government. May probably has enough support to defeat it, but a successful no confidence motion would trigger new elections. That would upend negotiations with the EU entirely and could even lead to a Labour government that would likely favor closer economic ties with the common bloc than what Mrs. May has negotiated.

A "No-Deal" Brexit If the UK and EU are unable to come to a solution before the March 29 deadline at all, and the EU is unwilling to offer the UK more time, Britain would then leave the EU without a comprehensive deal governing future economic relations. Both sides want to avoid this outcome, but the closer we get to 29 March, the more likely it looks.

The bottom line: The size of May's loss today will tell us whether she can sustain enough support to negotiate a new deal or if instead we're heading for a more tumultuous end to the Brexit drama.

Demography is destiny. That ominous-sounding pronouncement, credited to French philosopher Auguste Comte, is today taken to mean that a nation's fate depends on the youthfulness of its population. For a poor country to become rich, it needs lots of young people ready to work, to support those too old or too young to work, and to pay taxes. This is called the "demographic dividend."

That's an important part of China's success story. Over the past 40 years, more than one billion people have emerged from poverty in China. Waves of young people surged from the countryside into cities to work in factories. The state invested in education, and wages helped young workers, and then their children, go to school. The state also began a drive to develop the technologies of the future, by any means necessary. In China, once dirt-poor, hundreds of millions have created a middle class.

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"What would you do to try to move this battleship in a new direction? It requires public policy levers. And it requires … some pretty serious legislation." Ian Bremmer spoke with Kolbert, an award-winning journalist and author and staff writer at The New Yorker, on a new episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Watch the episode: Can We Fix the Planet the Same Way We Broke It?

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Vaccines are the best hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But rich countries are hogging most of the doses, with more than 83 percent of shots administered to date having gone to residents in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Most poor countries will have to wait years to achieve widespread vaccination, according to one study.

To address this inequity some stakeholders are pushing hard for waivers to intellectual-property (IP) rights through World Trade Organization trade rules so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make their own vaccines locally. India and South Africa have been leading the charge, which would essentially mean that deep-pocketed pharma companies like New York-based Pfizer, for instance, would have to hand over the keys to the kingdom, allowing local companies in New Delhi and Johannesberg to make generic versions of their vaccines.

Unsurprisingly, the debate has gotten fiery, with passionate arguments emerging both for and against.

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What are the Russians up to against Ukraine?

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50: The US will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The Biden administration's commitment, double the goal set by Barack Obama almost six years ago, was announced to coincide with a virtual Earth Day climate summit attended by dozens of world leaders.

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