Background Briefing: January 15, 2019
May’s Crushing Brexit Defeat
We begin with the crushing Brexit defeat inflicted on the British Prime Minister Theresa May today in a vote of 432 to 202 which was followed by a call by the Labor opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for a no-confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday. Rob Ford, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester and author of “Revolt on the Right” joins us to discuss the deepening dysfunction of British politics already paralyzed by the Brexit vote two and a half years ago which has been followed by entangled negotiations with the E.U. over a bitter divorce more and more Britons now appear to regret. We will examine the likelihood that Corbyn’s no-confidence vote will not bring down May’s government and what could be agreed to before the March 29 deadline for the U.K. to crash out of the E.U. Since the original Brexit ballot offered a simple choice between leave and remain, we will assess what kind of do-over referendum could emerge and more importantly, what choices would a new referendum ballot offer that could satisfy those who see Brexit and an epic mistake engineered by shady characters financed by Russian money, and those alienated from the political ruling class who the people were able to go around with the original Brexit vote.
The Contrast Between Barr’s Memo and His Testimony Today
Then we get an assessment of today’s confirmation hearing of William Barr to be the next Attorney General and speak with Bill Yeomans, who served 26 years in the Department of Justice in a series of management positions including Acting Assistant Attorney General. We discuss the possibility that the 19 page unsolicited memo Barr wrote arguing the Mueller investigation was “fatally misconceived” was an audition, not unlike how Acting A.G. Whitaker’s criticism of Mueller on TV got Trump’s attention. Which is in stark contrast to today’s assurances by Barr that he would let Mueller finish his report and not be bullied by Trump into suppressing it.
Life is Becoming Unbearable for the Average Venezuelan
Then finally with the Trump Administration signaling that it might recognize Venezuela’s National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate head of state instead of President Maduro who was sworn in for a second term last week, we will examine whether that will backfire with Virginia Lopez, a Caracas-based journalist who covered Venezuela for The Guardian and Al Jazeera English. She joins us to discuss a country unraveling with growing defections from the military as hyper-inflation and shortages of food and medicine are beginning to make life unbearable for the average Venezuelan.