EFTA Is Not an Alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit Deal

Flag of Norway
Flag of Norway (Jorge Láscar)

The Sun reports that British cabinet secretaries Michael Gove and Amber Rudd — the former a leader of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, the latter a “remainer” — intend to push for membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Labour’s support if and when Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal fails in Parliament.

This plan is unlikely to succeed, for two reasons:

  1. It confuses the withdrawal agreement with the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.
  2. Neither the EU nor the EFTA would accept it as a short-term solution. Read more

Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17 (European Council)

Spain has demanded greater clarity on the status of Gibraltar before signing off on the treaty that is meant to regulate Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

“We want the interpretation to be clear in that text that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU will not apply to Gibraltar,” Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said on Monday.

Here is why his demand is a bit of a dud. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Brexit Deal

Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016
Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016 (European Commission)

The United Kingdom has reached a provisional agreement with the EU about its withdrawal from the bloc in March 2019.

Here is a summary of what you need to know. Read more

Trump Puts Mueller Critic in Charge of Mueller Probe

American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12, 2017
American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12, 2017 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

American president Donald Trump has replaced his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, with a loyalist, Matt Whitaker, who in the past criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Here is everything you need to know. Read more

Italy’s Budget Standoff with the European Commission Explained

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio listen as Finance Minister Giovanni Tria answers a question from a reporter in Rome, October 3
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio listen as Finance Minister Giovanni Tria answers a question from a reporter in Rome, October 3 (Governo Italiano)

The European Commission has told Italy to revise its budget for 2019, accusing it of “openly and consciously” reneging on the commitments it has made.

This has been reported as the commission “rejecting” Italy’s budget proposal, but that is too strong a term. It has no such power.

Here is what’s really going on — and what is likely to happen next. Read more

Why Republicans Are In a Hurry to Put Kavanaugh on Supreme Court

Facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC
Facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC (Shutterstock/Brandon Bourdages)

Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting to rape a young woman in prep school and Democrats have been denied the chance to read tens of thousands of documents from his time as a lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration. Yet Republicans are rushing to confirm his nomination.

Why? Because they worry this may be their last chance to defend their majority on the Supreme Court. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Conservative Primary in Spain

Spanish People's Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado
Spanish People’s Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado (La Moncloa/PP)

The battle for the leadership of the Spanish right is now a two-person race: Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado have emerged from a poll of party members as the frontrunners.

Sáenz de Santamaría, the former deputy prime minister and a confidant of outgoing People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy, won 37 percent support against 34 percent for Casado, an ambitious right-wing lawmaker and the party’s communications chief.

Former defense minister María Dolores de Cospedal placed third with 26 percent support. She is expected to throw her support behind Casado. Read more