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Daily Skimm: Brexit, Italy's Government Shakeups, and Greta Thunberg Sails Into NYC

Boris Johnson
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Aug 29, 2019


The Story

The UK’s Parliament is taking some extra time off before Brexit.

Bold move taking a vacation with a looming deadline.

It wasn’t Parliament’s choice. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to leaving the EU before Brexit kicks in on October 31 “do or die” – as in, whether he can get a deal he likes with the EU or not.

Remind me why a breakup deal is necessary? I’ve never needed one.

And how’d that go for you? In the UK’s case, a deal could help it avoid trade and travel confusion when Brexit kicks in. Without a deal, the sudden exit from the EU could also lead to drug and food shortages.

So what’s the alternative?

A deal former Prime Minister Theresa May reached with the EU. Parliament made it clear it didn’t like it. Johnson’s been trying to renegotiate some of the fine print. The EU doesn’t seem to be having it. So yesterday, Johnson moved to shut down Parliament for a few more days by asking for a Queen’s Speech.

Excuse me if I have no idea what that is.

It’s tradition for the queen to give a speech every year or so declaring a new parliamentary session and laying out the government’s agenda. By asking for the speech to happen in mid-October, Parliament will go from having about five weeks to figure out a Brexit strategy…to less than three.

Why would Johnson do that?

Parliament has delayed Brexit before – and Johnson doesn’t want to give them the chance to do it again. Neither do pro-Brexit supporters, who are tired of waiting for lawmakers to deliver on the 2016 Brexit referendum.

But critics say…

That Johnson is making it harder for lawmakers to do their jobs, including getting to weigh in on a Brexit strategy. Some are calling the move “undemocratic.”

So…what happens next?

It’s not clear. Lawmakers really want to avoid a no-deal Brexit. They could try to call a no-confidence vote to replace Johnson’s government. Or pass a law forcing him to request a Brexit delay. But the EU would need to sign off on a delay, anyway.


Brexit was already set to be the biggest political and economic shift for the UK in decades. Now, the Parliament shutdown makes a no-deal Brexit on Halloween more likely. Trick or treat.

Skimm This: Our latest podcast episode goes deeper into the queen’s role amid all this drama.


Where friendships are being made…

Italy. Yesterday, two rival parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the opposition Democratic Party – said they would put aside their beef and form a coalition. The announcement ends the crisis over who would lead the country after Five Star’s coalition with the far-right League party fell apart a few weeks ago. The two had been arguing over key policy issues like taxes and migration. And the League’s leader thought his party had enough support to run the gov on its own, so he called for new elections. But in the meantime, Five Star found another coalition partner. Now, it seems that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte – who resigned last week to avoid a no-confidence vote – will get to keep his job.

What’s got status updates…

Apple. Yesterday, it said it will stop recording your conversations with Siri by default. (Raise your hand if you didn’t know that was a thing.) This came after a report last month found Apple contractors were listening to people’s very private, very personal convos with Siri. Apple says that’s not happening anymore.

Facebook. Yesterday, it announced it’s tightening rules for political ads ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. Like requiring advertisers for political or election-related content to prove they’re in the US. The goal is to avoid inauthentic ads, like we saw in 2016. It’s unclear if this will help.

Pinterest. Yesterday, it announced that from now on, searches for vaccine-related terms will only show results from public health organizations. The goal is to avoid the spread of misinformation. The real question is, who was getting their vaccine info off of Pinterest?

Who’s excluding herself from the narrative…

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Yesterday she ended her presidential campaign after failing to qualify for the next debate. Don’t worry: there are still a million or so people vying to be our next president.

Why some people are rethinking that extra flight this year…

Greta Thunberg. Yesterday, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist arrived in New York after sailing across the Atlantic. Her trip took 15 days and she did it to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions that come with flying on a commercial plane.

While Joaquin Phoenix has been getting in touch with his dark side…

Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas have also kept busy.

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