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UK’s Boris Johnson under fire over no-deal Brexit assessment

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The British government faced a backlash on Thursday after it was forced to publish documents warning that a no-deal Brexit could lead to civil unrest and shortages of food and medicines.

The “Operation Yellowhammer” papers, which the government released late on Wednesday, revealed that preparedness for leaving the EU without an agreement remained “at a low level”.

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The documents — disclosed after MPs voted Monday for their release — warned of “a rise in public disorder and community tensions” in such a scenario, as well as logjams at Channel ports threatening to impact supplies.

“It is extraordinary that these are things that could flow from the government’s own policy,” opposition Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn said.

“Normally when you’re protecting against something like this it’s a natural disaster, it’s the action of others, (things) you don’t control.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said they were updating the scenarios, which were last compiled at the start of August, and that it envisaged “the worst case”.

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“We’re spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC, noting there were daily meetings to prepare for no deal.

“We’ve planned for it and government does that well,” he insisted.

Paul Carter, leader of the local authority in the southeast county of Kent, where there are fears of gridlock following a no-deal Brexit, said Johnson’s administration had made “real progress” recently.

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“I’m pretty confident that we can avoid disruption in Kent,” he told the BBC.

But the release has fuelled fears among MPs that a disorderly divorce would be calamitous.

“It is unprecedented,” said MP Dominic Grieve, who was expelled from the ruling Conservatives last week for voting against the government over the issue.

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“Even if we are ready for a no-deal Brexit, this is highly disruptive and costly.”

– ‘Nothing is changing’ –

Johnson took office in July promising to finally deliver on the referendum decision by leaving the EU on October 31 no matter what, but finds himself increasingly boxed in.

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He has no majority in the Commons and suspended parliament on Monday until October 14 in an apparent bid to thwart opposition to a possible no-deal departure.

The controversial move provoked uproar across the political spectrum and several legal challenges.

A Scottish appeals court ruled Wednesday the suspension was “unlawful” but the government immediately appealed the decision, with the case set to be heard in the Supreme Court next Tuesday.

Parliament will for now stay shut, despite calls from opposition lawmakers for its immediate recall — intensified by the release of the Yellowhammer documents.

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“It is also now more important than ever that parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop no deal,” Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said.

However, a government source told AFP on Wednesday that “nothing is changing” until the case was concluded.

Meanwhile another ruling on a legal challenge in Belfast that no deal would breach the terms of Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord was expected Thursday.

– ‘Great progress’ –

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Ahead of the shutdown lawmakers outlawed a no-deal Brexit, but Johnson has insisted Britain will still depart the EU on October 31.

The British leader wants to renegotiate the divorce terms struck by his predecessor Theresa May, which MPs have repeatedly rejected.

But European leaders accuse him of offering no viable alternatives.

Johnson, whose EU adviser David Frost is currently in Brussels, insisted Wednesday they were making “great progress” towards getting a deal.

“The ice floes are cracking, there is movement under the keel of these talks,” he said.

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Beto O’Rourke looks to reactivate suburban strength in Texas to help Democrats win

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The photo line for Beto O’Rourke here Saturday afternoon quickly turned into something of a reunion.

“Hey, I know who you are!" a characteristically sweat-drenched O'Rourke told one supporter. After talking to another, O'Rourke yelled out to an aide: "Hey, someone who worked on the campaign wants to be plugged in again!"

The vibe was similar a day later in Plano, where O'Rourke rallied in front of signs reading, "Welcome to Beto Country," serving up nostalgia from his near-miss loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last year. He said the Senate race was the "only reason" he got to run for president, touting the support he built in Collin, Denton, Tarrant and Dallas counties before getting drowned out by cheers.

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2020 Election

Corey Lewandowski may use Judiciary Committee hearing to launch New Hampshire Senate run

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Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will appear before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday to answer questions about incidents outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller's report. But he may use the appearance as a way to launch his New Hampshire Senate run.

Axios reported Sunday that the former top aide to President Donald Trump is eager for a fiery exchange between him and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and other Democrats.

“Corey will use [the hearing] as part of the campaign. He will be confrontational to the Democrats. He will be totally loyal to Trump. And he will be playing to the right-wing of the party who need to unite behind him in a primary," said former New Hampshire Attorney General Thomas Rath.

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General Motors auto workers call strike in US

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The United Auto Workers union called a nationwide strike against General Motors Sunday, with some 46,000 members set to walk off the job beginning at midnight amid an impasse in contract talks.

The decision, which the Wall Street Journal described as the first major stoppage at GM in more than a decade, came a day after the manufacturer's four-year contract with workers expired without an agreement on a replacement.

Local union leaders met in Detroit "and opted to strike at midnight on Sunday," the UAW said on its Twitter account.

"This is our last resort," Terry Dittes, the union's lead negotiator with GM, told a news conference after the meeting. "We are standing up for the fundamental rights of working people in this country."

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