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Prime Minister Theresa May to try to break Brexit deadlock with EU concessions

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British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to break the Brexit deadlock on Monday by setting out proposals in parliament that are expected to focus on winning more concessions from the European Union.

With just over two months until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29 there is no agreement in London on how and even whether it should leave the world’s biggest trading bloc.

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After her Brexit divorce deal was rejected by members of parliament last week, May has been searching for a way to get a deal through parliament, so far in vain.

The EU, which has an economy more than six times the size of the United Kingdom, says it wants an orderly exit but senior officials have expressed frustration and sorrow at London’s deepening crisis over Brexit.

“I have often said Shakespeare could not have written any better the tragedy we are now witnessing in Britain,” German Europe Minister Michael Roth told broadcaster ARD.

Attempts to forge a consensus with the opposition Labour Party failed so May is expected to focus on winning over 118 rebels in her own party and the small Northern Irish party which props up her government with concessions from the EU.

May will focus on changing the Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy to ensure no return to a hard border between the British province and Ireland.

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IRELAND
May will make a statement in parliament at 1530 GMT and put forward a motion on her proposed next steps on Brexit, though some MPs are planning to wrest control of Britain’s exit from the government.

Buying sterling is not advisable because of Brexit uncertainty, UBS Wealth Management said on Monday, adding that hedging pound exposure over the next three months is one way to avoid market volatility.

In a sign of just how grave the political crisis in London has become, the Daily Telegraph reported that May was considering amending the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

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It said EU sources cast May’s plan a non-starter as a renegotiation of such a significant international treaty would require the consent of all parties involved in Northern Ireland.

May told her ministers she would focus on securing changes from Brussels designed to win over rebel Conservatives and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, The Times said.

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Ireland will not engage in bilateral talks on Brexit and will only negotiate as part of the 27 remaining members of the EU, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said on Monday.

“What we can’t do and what we won’t do, because we have not throughout this entire process, is engage in any kind of bilateral negotiations with the DUP or any other political party in Northern Ireland or the UK. This is a negotiation between the EU and the UK,” McEntee told national broadcaster RTE.

After May’s motion is published, MPs will be able to propose amendments to it, setting out alternatives to her deal.

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The 650-seat parliament is deeply divided over Brexit, with different factions of MPs supporting a wide range of options including leaving without a deal, holding a second referendum and seeking a customs union with the EU.

Ever since Britain voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016, London’s political class has been debating how to leave the European project forged by France and Germany after the devastation of World War Two.

While the country is divided over EU membership, most agree the world’s fifth largest economy is at a crossroads and its choices over Brexit will shape the prosperity of future generations for years to come.

Editing by Janet Lawrence

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We’ll ‘come out stronger’: Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump’s ‘surreal’ impeachment

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Former first lady Michelle Obama went on NBC's "Today" on Monday to talk about the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

During her NBC interview, Obama described the Trump impeachment as "surreal" and predicted that the United States would come back stronger afterward.

"I don't think people know what to make of it," she said. "But do I think we can come back from it? Oh yeah."

Obama then put Trump's impeachment in historical perspective.

"We've seen tough times in this country," she said. "You know we've gone through depressions and wars and bombings and terrorist attacks, and we've gone through Jim Crow, and we've always come out stronger. And that's what we have to continue to believe because what's our choice? To ball up in a corner and call it a day? Well that's not fair to this next generation that's coming before us that are counting on us to get this right."

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How Bill Barr will try to destroy his own DOJ report blowing up Trump’s ‘Deep State’ conspiracy theory

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In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime political observer Michael Tomasky warns that Attorney General Bill Barr will continue to act as Donald Trump's personal lawyer and will undercut Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report that is expected to show no "Deep State" conspiracy against the president.

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Here are six hints that baby Jesus stories were added much later to early Christian legends

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The wonder-filled birth story of the baby Jesus was centuries in the making.

Picture a creche with baby Jesus in a manger and shepherds and angels and three kings and a star over the stable roof. We think of this traditional scene as representing the Christmas story, but it actually mixes elements from two different nativity stories in the Bible, one in Matthew and one in Luke, with a few embellishments that got added in later centuries. What was the historical kernel? Most likely we will never know, because it appears that the Bible’s nativity stories are themselves highly-embellished late add-ons to the Gospels.

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