The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly | The Guardian

The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly | The Guardian


The Guardian's political editor Heather Stewart and political correspondent Jessica Elgot are joined every week by commentators, experts and politicians to unpack the biggest stories in politics.



The EU takes back control – Politics Weekly podcast

Sep 19, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Polly Toynbee, Ryan Shorthouse and Stewart Wood to discuss the latest on the supreme court prorogation hearing and Brexit negotiations, as well as party conference season

As the supreme court grapples with the question of whether Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was justified or not, the EU is still grappling with prime minister’s mystifying position on Brexit.

Now it looks as though the EU’s patience has finally worn thin. On Tuesday, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and Finland’s prime minister, Antti Rinne, set a two-week deadline to table a plan for replacing the Irish backstop.

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Operation Yellowhammer and parliament prorogued - Politics Weekly podcast

Sep 12, 2019


Rowena Mason is joined by Rafael Behr, Katy Balls and Grace Blakeley to discuss another damaging week for Boris Johnson, how the finance industry runs Britain, and whether the wounds caused by Brexit can ever be healed

After losing six votes in six days, Boris Johnson was dealt a double blow on Wednesday as Scottish judges declared his decision to prorogue parliament unlawful, and the government were forced to publish its secret Operation Yellowhammer no-deal Brexit impact papers.

With the possibility of parliament being un-prorogued, no-deal Brexit off the table for now, and no immediate chance of a general election, the prime minister is running out of options. Is there a way out?

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Johnson's Commons humiliation - Politics Weekly podcast

Sep 5, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Zoe Williams, Paul Harrison, Larry Elliott and John Curtice to discuss Boris Johnson’s triple defeat in parliament, Sajid Javid’s spending review and the possibility of a snap general election

With just days before Boris Johnson plans to suspend parliament, MPs have wasted no time in inflicting a string of defeats on the prime minister in a bid to block a no-deal Brexit.

With 21 rebel Tory MPs booted out of the party, the potential loss of most Tory seats in Scotland and Jeremy Corbyn so far refusing an early election, could Johnson’s premiership be shortlived?

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Boris Johnson goes prorogue – Politics Weekly podcast

Aug 29, 2019


Jessica Elgot and her guests react to the prime minister’s suspension of parliament for five weeks from mid-September, an act the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, called a ‘constitutional outrage’, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was a ‘threat to our democracy’.

Jessica is joined by the Guardian journalists Rafael Behr, Owen Jones and Sonia Sodha to analyse Boris Johnson’s motives and what steps are available for MPs returning to the Commons next week.

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Boris Johnson: the UK tour – Politics Weekly podcast

Aug 1, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined in the studio by Katy Balls, Martin Kettle and Stephanie Lloyd to discuss Boris Johnson’s trip to Northern Ireland and no-deal Brexit planning.

Please note: In the first release of this podcast on 01/08/19 Martin Kettle was heard to say that the majority of opinion in Northern Ireland is opposed to the Northern Ireland backstop. This was an error and we apologise. This has been removed from the podcast. Majority of opinion in Northern Ireland supports the backstop and the majority of members of the NI assembly (if it was sitting) are from parties that support the backstop too.

Updated: 02/08/19

During his first week, Boris Johnson hasn’t been arranging the seating plan in his new office, instead he’s done a tour of the UK, cuddled chickens, had a friendly phone call with Donald Trump and then headed for Belfast to discuss the restoration of power-sharing. All while continuing to promise increases in no-deal spending, extra police and more cash for schools. Many in Westminster have been asking: is this, in fact, an election campaign?

Joining Jessica Elgot to discuss these issues are Martin Kettle from the Guardian, Katy Balls from the Spectator and Stephanie Lloyd from Labour pressure group Progress.

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Johnson gets to work – Politics Weekly podcast

Jul 25, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Rafael Behr, Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Ryan Shorthouse to discuss Boris Johnson’s first days in office

Boris Johnson finally has the keys to No 10. But he faces one of the most daunting challenges on becoming prime minister since Winston Churchill in 1940: leaving the EU.

He signalled his intentions this week by sacking 18 members of Theresa May’s cabinet and reassembling his Vote Leave team. But will he go down in history as the prime minister who delivered Brexit, or the prime minister who was in office for the shortest period?

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All change at No 10 – Politics Weekly podcast

Jul 18, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Polly Toynbee, Aditya Chakrabortty, Isabel Hardman and John Crace to discuss next week’s prime-ministerial reshuffle

Next week it is likely that Boris Johnson will be announced as the 77th prime minister of the United Kingdom. But after a career littered with lies, casual racism, affairs and fantasy bridges, is Johnson really cut out for the job?

Joining Jessica Elgot to discuss this are Polly Toynbee and Aditya Chakrabortty from the Guardian and Isabel Hardman from the Spectator.

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Trump, UK ambassador and global diplomacy – Politics Weekly podcast

Jul 11, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Sonia Sodha, Henry Newman and Robin Renwick to discuss ambassadorial strife in Washington, the warring Tory party and Labour’s latest Brexit fudge

Leaked diplomatic memos by Britain’s ambassador in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, upset Donald Trump this week, causing the notoriously thin-skinned president to fire off a barrage of angry tweets and to refuse to deal with Darroch.

In the end, the ambassador resigned – but what does the episode say about the so-called special relationship, and Brexit Britain?

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Is a no-deal Brexit back on the cards? – Politics Weekly podcast

Jul 4, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Owen Jones and Rachel Wolf to discuss the latest Tory leadership pledges, the new intake of European MEPs and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

As Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt do their utmost to drive the country off a no-deal cliff edge, business leaders, fellow politicians and the rest of the world look on aghast.

While the Thelma and Louise of British politics wrestle over the steering wheel, we ask: are we really going to leave the EU without a deal?

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A bad week for Boris - Politics Weekly

Jun 27, 2019


Rafael Behr is joined by Katy Balls, Michael Savage and Tom Kibasi to discuss the latest on the Tory leadership battle and Labour’s Brexit manoeuvring

It appears that Boris Johnson has been taking tips from the Theresa May electioneering handbook, as this week he lurched from one PR disaster to another.

Last Friday police were called to the flat Johnson shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, and since then Johnson has been on the back foot: dodging reporters, avoiding TV debates, and saying strange things about building toy buses.

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And then there were two - Politics Weekly podcast

Jun 20, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Anushka Asthana, Ryan Shorthouse and Anand Menon to discuss the latest in the Tory leadership contest, maternity rights for MPs and Labour’s Brexit position

Despite making contradictory promises to opposing wings of the Conservative party, hiding from the press and public scrutiny, and a lacklustre showing in the candidates’ televised debate, Boris Johnson is still the man to beat in the race to become the next Tory leader and UK prime minister.

Can anything make a dent in his popularity with party members? And if he is elected, how on earth will he fulfil his promise to take Britain out of the EU by the end of October?

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All aboard the Boris Express - Politics Weekly podcast

Jun 13, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Polly Toynbee, Isabel Hardman, Jonathan Lis and Richard Partington to discuss the week’s key political events

Boris Johnson came out of hiding on Wednesday to finally launch his bid to be the next prime minister.

As the field of candidates narrows, and polls show him way out in front, can anything derail the Boris Express?

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Tory leadership battle hots up, and all change at Change UK – Politics Weekly podcast

Jun 6, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Rafael Behr and Katy Balls to discuss the week’s key political events

Boris Johnson began his leadership campaign in earnest this week, telling party members he was best placed to beat Labour and “put Nigel Farage back in his box”.

Meanwhile his leadership rivals queued up for an audience with Donald Trump, as the US president blew into town for his photo opportunity with the Queen.

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Tory and Lib Dem leadership bids and Trump's visit – Politics Weekly podcast

May 30, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Sarah Elliott, Martha Gill, Sonia Sodha and Will Tanner to discuss the week’s key political events

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May's withdrawal bill turmoil, British Steel and European elections – Politics Weekly podcast

May 23, 2019


Jonathan Freedland is joined in the studio by Pippa Crerar, Rob Davies, Henry Newman and Zoe Williams to discuss the week’s key political events

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Return of the withdrawal agreement bill and European elections – Politics Weekly podcast

May 16, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined in the studio by Rafael Behr, Ryan Shorthouse and Polly Toynbee, with Jennifer Rankin on the phone from Brussels. They discuss the return of the withdrawal agreement bill and look ahead to next week’s European elections

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Local elections, Brexit deadlock and online abuse towards Jess Phillips - Politics Weekly podcast

May 9, 2019


Rowena Mason is joined by Anushka Asthana, Lewis Baston, Flora Coleman and Sonia Sodha to discuss the fallout of the local elections and their potential impact on the upcoming European elections. Plus, Carl Benjamin’s comments about Jess Phillips, and last week’s Brexit optimism gives way to further uncertainty

This week, the fallout from the local elections, where the big losers were the two main parties. With widespread dissatisfaction about the Brexit deadlock, voters cast their ballots elsewhere. The Green party and independents benefited, but the biggest winners were the Liberal Democrats. Following the vote, the party’s leader, Vince Cable, announced: ‘We are credible.’

Also in this episode, the panel discuss a climate of misogyny and extreme rhetoric in the same week in which police announced they were investigating the Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin’s comments about Jess Phillips.

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Huawei leak, Williamson's sacking and more Brexit deadlock – Politics Weekly podcast

May 2, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Dan Sabbagh, Jonathan Freedland, Stephanie Lloyd and Henry Newman to discuss the fallout of the Huawei leak, including Gavin Williamson’s sacking. Also: whether a customs union could be the key to finding an agreement on Brexit

Following the leak of a National Security Council decision to approve, in principle, Huawei’s supply of “non-core” 5G technology, Gavin Williamson was sacked as defence secretary. But he still denies having anything to do with it.

As one despairing official remarked recently: “This government is a sieve.” We’ll be looking at how a culture of leaking seeped into Theresa May’s bitterly divided government.

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Local elections, Scottish independence and breaking the Brexit deadlock - Politics Weekly podcast

Apr 25, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Polly Toynbee, Rafael Behr and Ryan Shorthouse to discuss next week’s local council elections, Nicola Sturgeon’s Indyref2 announcement and what obstacles lie ahead on the long road to Brexit

Next week 8,425 seats will be contested at local council elections across the country.

And the biggest losers could well be the Tories, with fears they could lose as many as 1,000 councillors as punishment for the Brexit deadlock.

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New politics and the far right – Politics Weekly podcast

Apr 18, 2019


Rowena Mason is joined by Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Katy Balls and Matthew Goodwin to discuss the Brexit party, Change UK and the European elections. Plus: how politics shifted to the right

With the traditional two-party system in deadlock over Brexit, new political forces are emerging to challenge the status quo.

The first battleground looks likely to be the European elections next month, where the Independent Group and Nigel Farage’s Brexit party will be slugging it out alongside the usual suspects.

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Brexit trick or treat? – Politics Weekly podcast

Apr 11, 2019


Sonia Sodha is joined by Owen Jones, Polly Toynbee and Will Tanner to discuss what Brexit horrors await. Plus: why people under 50 aren’t voting for the Tories

To no one’s great surprise, Theresa May’s request for a short Brexit delay was torn up by the EU27 last night, with the offer instead of extending Britain’s membership of the EU until Halloween.

In the early hours of the morning, Donald Tusk held a press conference to warn the UK: “Please do not waste this time” – but a solution looks as elusive as ever.

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All eyes on Jeremy Corbyn – Politics Weekly podcast

Apr 4, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Lisa O’Carroll, Zoe Williams and Henry Newman to assess the chances of Corbyn and May burying the hatchet to reach a cross-party consensus on Brexit. Plus: we meet one of the environmental protesters who invaded parliament this week. And is Brexit bad for our mental health?

After three years of turmoil, billions of pounds spent, and three failed attempts at getting her deal through parliament, Theresa May stopped trying to exit the EU with Tory and DUP votes and turned instead to Jeremy Corbyn.

But have two political leaders ever been more ill-suited to finding a cross-party consensus?

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Exit Theresa May? – Politics Weekly podcast

Mar 28, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Polly Toynbee, Dan Sabbagh and Aarti Shankar to discuss the PM’s possible departure, and contenders for the top job. Plus: the Labour MP Rachel Reeves tells us about the forgotten women of Westminster

Theresa May played her final hand at the Tory party’s 1922 Committee on Wednesday night, promising to sacrifice her premiership if they back her twice-rejected deal.

Brexiters suddenly realised the Irish backstop was not the big problem they had thought it was just hours earlier and got behind her deal, and for a few minutes at least it looked as though Brexit was sorted.

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The Brexit blame game – Politics Weekly podcast

Mar 21, 2019


Sonia Sodha is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Katy Balls to discuss next week’s looming Brexitgeddon. Plus: with another People’s Vote march happening this weekend, we talk second referendums

As the Brexit drama approached its climax, it was a week of sudden plot twists. First, John Bercow ruled that Theresa May couldn’t bring the same Brexit deal back to the Commons for a third time. Then Donald Tusk upped the ante by announcing that MPs must pass May’s deal next week for the UK to get an extension to article 50.

May then upset MPs by telling the nation that none of this was her fault, but that of MPs. So with just days to go until Britain leaves the EU, parliament is all set for a final deal vs no deal clash next week. And all bets are off.

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Parliamentary pandemonium - Politics Weekly podcast

Mar 14, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Rafael Behr, Grace Blakeley and Henry Newman to discuss the fallout from this week’s calamitous Brexit vote. Plus: Tony Blair – hero or villain?

Theresa May tried everything. She announced £1.6bn for poorer towns to win over Labour MPs, made new promises on workers’ rights and made a last-minute dash to Strasbourg for negotiations on the Irish backstop.

But none of it worked. May’s deal was defeated, parliament went into meltdown and now May is, incredibly, talking about bringing back her deal for a third time.

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Brexit crunch time again? – Politics Weekly podcast

Mar 7, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Stephanie Lloyd and Rachel Wolf to discuss next week’s Brexit vote. Plus: Jess Phillips on school cuts, and the runners and riders to be the next Conservative leader

It’s crunch time. Again.

With Brexit negotiations at a standstill, and the vote on Theresa May’s deal due next week, what are its chances? And what on earth happens if it doesn’t get through?

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May's Brexit delay and Corbyn's second referendum - Politics Weekly podcast

Feb 28, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Polly Toynbee, Rafael Behr and Will Tanner to discuss an article 50 extension and Labour support for a people’s vote. Plus: can we trust the Independent Group’s poll ratings?

Theresa May suggested for the first time this week that article 50 could be extended, while Jeremy Corbyn finally seemed to be shifting the Labour leadership’s position in favour of a second referendum.

But with May’s proposed extension lasting for just three months, and a people’s vote still unlikely to command a majority in parliament, what’s changed?

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A splitting headache for May and Corbyn – Politics Weekly podcast

Feb 21, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Andrew Rawnsley, Katy Balls and Matt Zarb-Cousin to discuss the biggest split in politics since 1981. Plus: as May heads back to Brussels, is a Brexit deal any nearer?

On Monday the “gang of seven” – Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith – split from Labour, citing Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit stance and failure to tackle antisemitism.

But then there were eight, then eleven, as Labour’s Joan Ryan joined their ranks, followed by Tories Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen, blaming the Conservative party’s lurch to the right and – yes, Brexit.

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'More excuses and more delays' – Politics Weekly podcast

Feb 14, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Sonia Sodha, Peter Walker and Ryan Shorthouse to discuss the latest Brexit progress, or lack of it. Plus: we weigh up the contenders in the US Democratic presidential race, and wonder what to do about Tory obstructionist Christopher Chope

Theresa May appealed to MPs for more time for her Brexit deal this week, with negotiations over the Irish backstop apparently at a crucial stage. It was just “more excuses and more delays”, said Jeremy Corbyn.

This seemed to be confirmed hours later by the government’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins, when he accidentally let slip Theresa May’s top-secret Brexit plan in a hotel bar in Brussels.

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Brexit hell breaks loose – Politics Weekly podcast

Feb 7, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Dawn Foster and Patrick Wintour to discuss the threat of a no-deal Brexit. Plus: we hear about a new campaign to end dodgy working practices, and ponder the wisdom of a planned new statue of Margaret Thatcher

Donald Tusk ruffled feathers this week when he declared there was ‘a special place in hell’ for those who sold Brexit without a ‘plan of how to carry it out safely’.

And a proper plan still proved elusive as May arrived back in Brussels to argue for changes to the Irish backstop, despite the EU having already told her there will be no movement on the issue.

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The Brexit delusion: May to demand the impossible? – Politics Weekly podcast

Jan 31, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Polly Toynbee, Martin Kettle and Aarti Shankar to discuss the latest round of fantasy Brexit. Plus: a short history of Brexit, and why MPs should pay their speeding fines

The Tory party has finally decided what sort of Brexit it wants. The Brady amendment, which was passed on Tuesday, demands the replacement of the Northern Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

But just six minutes after the vote was counted, Brussels reminded everyone that “the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation”. Undaunted, Theresa May is set to head to Brussels to demand what looks impossible.

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No deal, no problem? - Politics Weekly podcast

Jan 24, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Dan Sabbagh, Michael Savage and Katy Balls to discuss the UK’s growing appetite for a no-deal Brexit . Also the view from Britain with John Harris and the view from Europe with Jennifer Rankin. Also up for discussion is parliament, proxy voting and pregnant MPs

Despite desperate entreaties from business and MPs, Theresa May is steadfastly refusing to take the possibility of a no-deal Brexit off the table, and the UK looks perilously close to crashing out of Europe on WTO terms.

But there seems to be a sense of growing support for a no-deal Brexit: in a poll last week, the most popular option for what happens next was no deal, backed by 28% of voters.

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Back to the Brexit drawing board – Politics Weekly podcast

Jan 17, 2019


Jessica Elgot is joined by Rafael Behr, Owen Jones and Henry Newman to discuss what happens after this week’s tumultuous Brexit vote. Plus: is Brexit a disaster for public services?

Theresa May suffered a crushing defeat on Tuesday, as her EU withdrawal agreement was rejected by a margin of 230 votes, prompting a motion of no confidence from Jeremy Corbyn.

May promised to consult with MPs with “the widest possible range of views,” but showed no sign of budging on her red lines. Corbyn then refused to be consulted anyway, and also offered little hope to his own supporters who wanted a change of direction towards a second referendum.

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Parliament takes back control – Politics Weekly podcast

Jan 10, 2019


Heather Stewart is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Dawn Foster and Will Tanner to discuss the turmoil in the Commons ahead of next week’s Brexit vote. Plus: we talk to Harriet Harman about MP harassment, and look at the new 10-year plan for the NHS

Battle resumed in parliament this week as MPs voted to take back control of the Brexit process from government.

First, a coalition of Labour and Conservative MPs organised an amendment to the finance bill to curb the government’s tax powers in the event of no deal. Then May was defeated again over another amendment, this one forcing her to present MPs with a new Brexit plan within three days if she loses next week’s vote.

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Project Fear-plus-plus-plus – Politics Weekly podcast

Dec 20, 2018


Jessica Elgot is joined by Rafael Behr, Susanna Rustin and Katy Balls to discuss Theresa May’s doomsday preparations. Plus: should Brexit be decided by a citizens assembly instead of parliament?

Faced with the prospect of her Brexit deal being defeated in the Commons, Theresa May’s cabinet has decided to dramatically step up preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Project Fear of the 2016 referendum looks like a walk in the park compared with the measures that have been announced: a further £2bn in “Brexit preparedness” funding, becoming the world’s leading buyer of fridges to stockpile medicines, and having 3,500 members of the armed forces on standby.

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#Brexitshambles – Politics Weekly podcast

Dec 13, 2018


Jessica Elgot is joined by Jonathan Freedland, Lisa O’Carroll and Sam Lowe to review a whirlwind week in Westminster. Plus: Jon Henley on the gilets jaunes protest movement that has seized France

It was one step forward and two steps back in the Brexit hokey cokey this week. Tuesday’s long-awaited parliamentary vote was cancelled at the 11th hour, as Theresa May realised that a catastrophic defeat could be curtains for her premiership.

MPs raged, and within 24 hours Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative party’s 1922 Committee, announced that the threshold of 48 letters from Tory MPs calling for a vote of no confidence had been reached. May lived to fight another day, but for how long?

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Countdown to the Brexit vote – Politics Weekly podcast

Dec 6, 2018


Jessica Elgot is joined by Owen Jones, Dan Sabbagh and Allie Renison to weigh the prospects for next week’s all-important vote

With the clock ticking down to Tuesday’s vote on the Brexit deal, there’s more than a whiff of parliamentary revolution in the air. Rebellious MPs forced the government to reveal the legal advice on the deal, and a fresh amendment gave parliament control in the event of a government defeat.

If the odds of May’s deal getting through parliament looked terrible a few days ago, now they’re looking even worse.

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The cost of Brexit – Politics Weekly podcast

Nov 29, 2018


Heather Stewart is joined by Larry Elliott, Aarti Shankar and Anand Menon to discuss the economic fallout from Brexit. Plus: the arcane rules for electing hereditary peers to the House of Lords

Theresa May’s campaign to sell her Brexit deal to parliament suffered a further blow this week when the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced that in all Brexit scenarios the UK would be worse off.

The Bank of England then weighed in with even gloomier predictions, saying a no-deal Brexit would be worse than the 2008 financial crisis.

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'A Brexit deal is within our grasp' – Politics Weekly podcast

Nov 22, 2018


Pippa Crerar is joined by Henry Newman, Jason Arthur and Polly Toynbee to discuss Theresa May’s negotiations

A week after Theresa May unveiled her Brexit deal, how things have changed.

After a flurry of Brexiter resignations and talk of a no-confidence vote, the 48 letters needed to trigger a vote did not materialise, business leaders and the Bank of England came out in support of the deal, and rebel Tories fell into line.

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Judgment day for May – Politics Weekly podcast

Nov 15, 2018


Heather Stewart is joined by Katy Balls, Jill Rutter and Randeep Ramesh to discuss Theresa May’s Brexit deal

After two years of kicking the Brexit can down the road, judgment day has finally arrived.

Cabinet ministers were summoned to No 10 this week to give their approval to Theresa May’s long-awaited withdrawal agreement … and after a gruelling five hours, they did just that.

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