1. Theresa May Suffers Embarrassing Defeat on Brexit Strategy
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered an embarrassing defeat by lawmakers Thursday in a vote that left her bid to secure a European Union divorce deal stuck between an intransigent EU and a resistant U.K. Parliament with Brexit just six weeks away.
A rebellion by hard-core Brexit backers saw the House of Commons vote by 303 votes to 258 against a motion reiterating support for May’s approach to Brexit support expressed by lawmakers in votes just two weeks ago.
The defeat is symbolic rather than binding, but shows how weak May’s hand is as she tries to secure changes to her divorce deal from the EU in order to win backing for it in Parliament. It is likely to leave EU leaders wondering whether May can win support for any kind of Brexit deal, given Britain’s political instability.
May tried to put a positive spin on the result. The prime minister’s office said in a statement that “while we didn’t secure the support of the Commons this evening,” the government believed Parliament still wanted May to seek changes to the Brexit deal that lawmakers could support.
“The government will continue to pursue this with the EU to ensure we leave on time on 29th March,” it said.
2. Trump to Declare National Emergency to Build Border Wall
US President Donald Trump will sign an executive order declaring a national emergency, which will empower him to fund the construction of a massive wall along the US-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country and curb drug smuggling. The move would help Mr Trump get $5.6 billion for the construction of the wall that, he has asserted, is essential for national security.
President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country, she said. The White House statement came soon after Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell made the move public.
3.. Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi: Egyptian President May Rule Until 2034
Egypt’s parliament has overwhelmingly voted to approve draft constitutional changes that could extend President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s time in office by another 12 years.
Mr Sisi is due to stand down in 2022 when his second four-year term ends.
But 485 of the country’s 596 lawmakers voted on Thursday to lengthen presidential terms to six years and let Mr al-Sisi serve another two.
Several Egyptian human rights groups have spoken out against the decision.
The changes, first proposed earlier this month, will now be drafted into legislation and put to another parliamentary vote. If approved again, Egypt will then hold a referendum.
4. Vatican envoy to France under investigation for sexual assault
The Vatican’s envoy to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, is under investigation for sexual assault, a French judicial source told CNN Friday.The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on January 24, the source said. Ventura, 74, has been based in Paris since 2009, serving as a diplomat for Pope Francis.
The archbishop is alleged to have inappropriately touched a junior male official working at the Paris city hall, Paris deputy mayor Patrick Klugman told. He added that following the alleged sexual assault, the city hall filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor.
The Vatican said in a statement that the Holy See was aware of the investigation and that it “awaits the results.” While the Vatican’s embassy in Paris said it would not comment on the investigation.
5. Haiti President Breaks Silence After Week of Violent Unrest
Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Thursday broke his silence after a week of violent protests demanding his resignation as the US announced it was pulling “non-emergency personnel” from the country over the deadly unrest.
“I will not leave the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers,” Moise said in a pre-recorded address broadcast on state television, speaking in Creole in the aftermath of clashes between authorities and demonstrators in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Since February 7, at least seven people have died as Haiti has been plunged into political crisis, with everyday life paralyzed by protests and barricades in the largest towns.
The protesters, angry about skyrocketing inflation and the alleged theft of nearly $2 billion in Venezuelan oil relief to the island, are demanding Moise’s resignation.