Brexit deal in hand, Johnson turns to Parliament
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having secured a hard-fought Brexit deal with the E.U., will today try to sell it to members of Parliament, which will decide its fate in a special session on Saturday.
Despite his success in Brussels, won at the cost of significant concessions, Mr. Johnson’s victory lap was short-lived, as obstacles to passing the agreement became clearer with little time left to persuade lawmakers to accept it.
Sticking point: Unionists in Northern Ireland felt a deep sense of betrayal, with Mr. Johnson having overruled objections to the deal from lawmakers who represent them. The Democratic Unionist Party — whose support he needs — says it would essentially cleave Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and hurt its economy.
Win-win: Even if Mr. Johnson loses the Saturday vote, he can argue in a general election that he’d done all he could to make Brexit happen by Oct. 31, as he promised. He can blame either Brussels for holding up the process or Parliament for voting down his plan.
The deal: Northern Ireland would legally be part of Britain’s customs territory, but it would adhere to a host of European rules and regulations. That would allow seamless trading with the Republic of Ireland to continue, easing concerns that decades of peace on the island might be jeopardized.
More broadly, the deal is at the extreme end of possible divorce settlements between Britain and the E.U., with no promise of alignment in commerce and trade, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
If you’re as tired as we are: Sky News announced a pop-up Brexit-free channel, for news about everything else.
Turkey agrees to a pause, but not a pullout
Vice President Mike Pence reached a deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, accepting a Turkish presence in northern Syria in exchange for the promise of a five-day cease-fire, to allow embattled Kurds to leave.
The arrangement, reached during a hastily arranged trip to Ankara, is remarkably deferential to Turkey, with the U.S. also dropping threatened sanctions. Turkey’s foreign minister credited Mr. Erdogan, saying that “we got what we wanted.”
It completes President Trump’s abrupt reversal of American policy in the Syrian conflict, which drew intense criticism from lawmakers in both U.S. parties. Whether the deal will work is unclear, because most of the main actors in northern Syria — the Kurdish leadership and the Russian and Syrian governments — were not at the negotiating table.
Trump official admits Ukraine aid holdup was political
President Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, effectively confirmed a key premise of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, then later tried to walk back his statements.
He told reporters that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election. And he called the action “absolutely appropriate.”
Only a few years ago, France’s far right showed little interest in the environment. Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of what became the National Rally party, denied human-driven climate change and dismissed ecology as the “new religion of the bobo,” or bohemian bourgeois.
But as the issue has risen to the top of European voters’ concerns, the far-right parties are taking note. The National Rally’s version of environmentalism, which calls for reining in consumption and population growth, is rooted in the right’s traditional idealization of the land and national identity.
Here’s what else is happening
Extinction Rebellion protests: A video captured a violent exchange between commuters and a climate protester standing on top of a train in London. The demonstration was part of a campaign by the group Extinction Rebellion to draw attention to the climate crisis with disruptive tactics, a strategy the mayor of London called “counterproductive.”
Snapshot: Above, Virgin Galactic’s new high-tech jumpsuit for passengers on its flights to the edge of space. It’s included in the $250,000 ticket price.
Malaria prevention: Scientists have rediscovered a compound developed by German researchers during World War II. It appears to be more effective than DDT, and perhaps safer.
What we’re watching: If you’re confused about why the Irish border issue is a roadblock in Brexit negotiations, try a few episodes of “Derry Girls” on Netflix. It’s a profound look at the history of the violent sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, and it adds a light (and hilarious) touch to its story of coming of age in a conflict zone. — Melina
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Take time this weekend to make sinigang, a comforting Filipino soup with pork, vegetables and a tamarind broth.
Listen: Vagabon’s songs feature mixed, elusive emotions: longing and ambivalence, displacement and stability, confronting fears and searching for hope. Her self-titled second album is out today.
Watch: After “Twilight,” Robert Pattinson reinvented himself in art-house films. How will he follow “The Lighthouse” and his wildest role so far? He’s playing Batman.
Smarter Living: The CBD industry is flourishing in the U.S., conservatively projected to hit $16 billion by 2025. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of many components of the marijuana plant, and claims are rampant about its ability to ease depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and chronic pain. Our “Scam or Not” series finds that it has some real promise.
And now for the Back Story on …
Don’t watch the tape.
That was the takeaway for moviegoers who saw the horror film “The Ring,” starring Naomi Watts and directed by Gore Verbinski, which opened on this day in 2002.
A remake of the 1997 Japanese film “Ringu,” the movie made more than $249 million worldwide, a haul that encouraged more English-language remakes of Asian horror films — and two more American “Ring” movies.
The plot centers on a mysterious videotape that curses its viewers, leaving them with seven days to live. The cursed tape, and the film itself, focuses on a well.
The Japanese original, directed by Hideo Nakata, was based on one of Japan’s most famous ghost stories, which is set at Himeji Castle. Declared one of the first Japanese Unesco World Heritage sites in 1993, the castle is open to the public, but the well that figured in the story is sealed shut.
Mr. Nakata’s most recent film revisits the fable again, this time drawing on social media as a curse in lieu of a VHS tape.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Nadav Gavrielov wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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