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Apr 12, 2019

Politics | Brexit Britain Has a Problem Called England.


By Alan Crawford


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This was supposed to be Brexit Day mark 2, but thanks to the extension Prime Minister Theresa May secured in Brussels this week, another deadline has now come and gone.
Whether the U.K. ever quits the European Union or gets locked into a kind of political purgatory depends on the country as a whole agreeing on the way forward. But that looks impossible without heeding a growing sense of English disconnect from the union it dominates.
For if anything is clear from the U.K.’s messy EU divorce, it’s that the spectacle of an angry and divided nation is an English phenomenon, not a British one. Of the U.K.’s four constituent nations, two — England and Wales — voted to leave the EU. England’s larger population ensures it will drag Scotland and Northern Ireland out regardless.
At Brexit’s emotional core is a broad swath of English towns and countryside outside London that’s struggling to find its role in the world, resentful of the rest of the union and alienated from its cosmopolitan capital. Brexit revealed these tensions rather than created them.
Unless that sense of disconnect is addressed, more disruption is bound to follow.
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The megalithic circle of Stonehenge in the heart of England. Click here for Political Focus, our roundup of the week in photos.

Global Headlines

Foundering Fed nomination | U.S. President Donald Trump has said privately he knows Herman Cain will have trouble getting confirmed to the Federal Reserve, Jennifer Jacobs and Laura Litvan report. Several Senate Republicans have said they’d vote against Cain’s nomination, and Democrats remain united in their opposition. Critics have cited allegations of sexual harassment that derailed Cain’s 2012 presidential candidacy.
Time’s up | When Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the Sudanese military, ending his 30-year rule, he became the fourth African leader to step down since 2017, after the presidents of Algeria, Angola and Zimbabwe. As in Algeria, however, activists in Sudan aren't satisfied with superficial changes and reject al-Bashir's replacement by a transitional military administration. More protests are planned today to demand a civilian-led government.
Another One Gone
Secret society | They’re known as the RSS – a force of more than four million volunteers devoted to the re-election of India’s hard-line Hindu prime minister. But the power of the closed, all-male Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stretches way beyond just rallying voters in the ballot underway. More of its members are in the top ranks of government than ever before – including the president, vice president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself – and it has unprecedented influence on key government policy.
Taking on the right | Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused conservative activists and a newspaper of inciting violence against fellow Democratic representative Ilhan Omar. The freshmen progressive – who has become a liberal icon – said the New York Post endangered Omar with a front page yesterday that criticized her comments about the Sept. 11 attacks. Trump last week mocked Omar, a day after a New York man was arrested for threatening to murder her.
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Thumbs down | Trump’s rejection yesterday of calls for confidence-building economic projects with North Korea were a blow to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in’s efforts to restart nuclear talks with Kim Jong Un. “Now’s not the right time” for projects including re-opening a joint industrial park kept shuttered by sanctions, he said at the White House. But Trump did hold out hope for smaller steps to keep the negotiations alive.
What to Watch
  • Self-proclaimed socialist and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders plans to release 10 years of his  tax returns before the April 15 filing deadline after disclosing this week that his recent literary fame has catapulted him into the ranks of top earners he’s derided for decades.
  • Turkey’s governing AK Party will officially request a new election in the closely contested March 31 mayoral vote in Istanbul, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s candidate was beaten by an opposition alliance.
And finally… Pope Francis got down on his knees, kissed the shoes of South Sudan’s leaders and urged them to keep peace in the world’s youngest country. Soon after gaining independence in 2011, the nation descended into a five-year civil war that displaced a third of the population and killed almost 400,000. An armistice signed last September calls for a unity government to be formed in four weeks time. “People are wearied, exhausted by past conflicts,” the pope told avowed enemies President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar yesterday. “Remember that with war, all is lost!”
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Some in South Sudan worry the ouster of al-Bashir in neighboring Sudan could scupper the peace deal that ended its civil war.
Source: Vatican TV. 
— With assistance by Ruth Pollard

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