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Britain’s Johnson races Brexit clock as deadline looms

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces two crucial Brexit votes Tuesday that could decide if he still has a reasonable shot at securing his EU divorce by next week’s deadline.

The UK is entering a cliffhanger finale to a drama that has divided families and embittered politics ever since voters backed a split from Britain’s 27 EU allies and trading partners in 2016.

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Johnson has set himself a very high bar by promising that he will get Brexit done — “do or die'” — by the twice-delayed October 31 departure date.

The Conservative leader now hopes parliament gives initial support to a Brexit bill that translates the revised withdrawal agreement he struck with Brussels last week into UK law.

He then hopes the lower House of Commons commits to passing the entire legislation in three days — a heavy lift for a 110-page text designed to unwind 46 years of intricate EU-UK ties.

Failure in either of Tuesday’s votes could deliver a potentially devastating blow to Johnson that will probably see the process prolonged again.

Parliament has already forced Johnson to request a three-month extension that European leaders will consider once they get a clearer picture of how the battles in parliament play out.

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Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday the EU has “done all in our power” to assure an orderly divorce.

Extra time could allow opposition lawmakers to try and secure much closer future trade relations with the bloc than the firmer break envisioned by Johnson.

Pro-European Britons have also held massive rallies in London demanding a second Brexit referendum, which could allow for the result of the first to be overturned.

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A delay would give Johnson a fresh stab at an early election designed to give him the parliamentary majority needed to avoid these scenarios and get his legislation through.

– ‘Move on’ –

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And victory in both of Tuesday’s votes would by no means guarantee that Johnson will manage to get Britain out in the remaining eight days.

The main opposition Labour Party has vowed to fight the government’s attempt to ram through the legislation at breakneck speed.

UK PARLIAMENT/AFP / JESSICA TAYLOR Johnson has set himself a very high by bar by promising that he will get Brexit done — “do or die'” — by the twice-delayed October 31 departure date

A three-day process would still likely see Labour and its allies try to attach amendments that are unpalatable to the government.

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“Labour will seize every opportunity through the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to safeguard workers’ rights, protect our economy and ensure the people are given the final say,” the left-wing party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell wrote in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

“MPs have an opportunity to reject the false choice between Boris Johnson’s bad deal and no deal,” he wrote.

Government sources told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that Johnson could pull the bill if it gets weighed down with amendments his Conservatives cannot accept.

The same sources warned that Johnson would then try to call an “immediate” election that could be held as early as next month.

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Johnson said most Britons just wanted to get Brexit resolved.

“The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I,” Johnson said Monday.

“Let’s get Brexit done on 31 October and move on.”

– ‘Repetitive and disorderly’ –

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Johnson is coming off a string of parliamentary defeats that underscore the travails his minority government faces as it oversees a historic break from Europe.

His initial attempts to get a version of the new Brexit legislation through were thwarted at a very rare weekend sitting and then again Monday.

AFP / Gal ROMA Key Brexit dates

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled the government’s bid to push the same Brexit proposal through parliament twice in three days “repetitive and disorderly”.

British newspapers expect Johnson to win the first vote Tuesday that essentially agrees to examine the proposed legislation.

But the second vote on the shortened timeline is widely seen as too close to call.

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Johnson’s rapid success would see the legislation move to the upper House of Lords of Friday.

The debate there is expected to last two days.

The new deal must further ratified by the European Parliament before Brexit finally takes effect.


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Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

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In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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