What We're Watching: More Brexit shenanigans

More Brexit shenanigans: Britons this week saw Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson endorse Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in upcoming elections. As a special bonus, they got to see Corbyn return the favo(u)r with a formal endorsement of Johnson. Most viewers in the UK will have understood immediately that these are the latest example of "deep fakes," digitally manipulated video images. The more important Brexit story this week is a pledge by Nigel Farage that his Brexit Party will not run candidates in areas held by the Conservatives in upcoming national elections. That's a boost for Johnson, because it frees his party from having to compete for support from pro-Brexit voters in those constituencies.


Spain's leftward lurch: After coming up short of a majority in last weekend's elections, Spain's caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist party has been looking for a governing partner. Now, in a move that would bring the far-left into Spain's government for the first time since Ernest Hemingway's days, he's struck a deal with the left-populist Unidas Podemos. It's an awkward tie-up between two former rivals, but both see it as the best way to contain the surge of the far-right Vox party, which doubled its seat count in the election last Sunday. The Socialist-Podemos coalition would need the support of some smaller regional parties to stick – we're keeping an eye on the horse trading before parliament reconvenes next month.

A prisoner swap in Afghanistan: The Afghan government announced on Tuesday that it would release three Taliban leaders in exchange for an American academic and an Australian colleague who were snatched from a Kabul university campus in 2016. Details of the swap have yet to be publicly announced, but we're watching this story to see if it creates an opening for the resumption of peace talks between the US and Taliban that President Trump declared "dead" in September.

Lula unbound: Last week Brazil's Supreme Court ruled the popular former left-wing president Lula da Silva can go free from jail while he appeals his conviction on corruption charges. His release jolts an already deeply polarized country: ahead of last year's presidential election, Lula led the polls but couldn't run because of his conviction, which supporters saw as a political hit job. Lula can't run for president in 2022 unless he gets his conviction cleared, but he has pledged to mobilize Brazil's left and sweep Bolsonaro from office. The political divides in Brazil are as bitter as anywhere in the world: we're watching to see how much uglier things get now.

What We're Ignoring:

If Mark Sanford falls in the woods…Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has dropped his bid for the 2020 Republican Party nomination.

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William Hague: What is my prediction for the election?

Well, I think that conservatives will definitely have a bigger lead in votes over the Labour Party than at the last election, two years ago. Now that should give them a majority in the House of Commons. But then there will be tactical voting between Labour and Liberal voters against the Conservatives. And there are many undecided people at the last minute. So, I would go for a small conservative majority, maybe around 20 seats, which is also what some of the most sophisticated pollsters have said.

David Miliband: Who do you predict will win the UK elections?

I'm very careful about predictions, especially about the future, as someone famously said. The polls are pretty clear that this has been a dismal campaign, an unpopularity contest in all sorts of ways in which the lesser of two evils is perceived by the voters to be a conservative vote. So, the polls are giving a range of possibilities from a hung parliament right through to a large conservative majority. Obviously, I don't know who's going to win. My tour around the country last week gave me a real sense, a yearning really, for a better choice, for better choices, for more fronting up by the parties, because both parties have done a job of avoiding some of the hardest choices. And so, I predict that whoever wins, there are some very difficult choices ahead. And the sooner that politics is about what you're asking for as well as what you're offering. As Tawney said, after Labour lost the 1931 election, "we offered too much and asked too little." The sooner politics is about shared endeavor, the better for the country.

After a months-long investigation into whether President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine's president into investigating his political rivals in order to boost his reelection prospects in 2020, House Democrats brought two articles of impeachment against him, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Click here for our GZERO guide to what comes next.

In the meantime, imagine for a moment that you are now Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader and senior member of Donald Trump's Republican Party. You've got big choices to make.

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Trump gets his deal – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that Democrats will back the USMCA, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Crucially, the bill will also have support from the nation's largest labor union. This is a major political victory for President Trump, who promised he would close this deal, but it's also good for Pelosi: it shows that the Democrats' House majority can still accomplish big things even as it impeaches the president. But with the speed of the Washington news cycle these days, we're watching to see if anyone is still talking about USMCA three days after it's signed.

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