Welcome to A Week in Review, a new weekly feature where we give you a quick rundown on what’s been going on in the world of politics, activism, and feminism. Because why read the news when you can read a highly condensed summary that essentially tells you the same thing?
Every Friday, we’ll be giving you a quick overview of the major stories from the past week, so you can stay informed without getting sucked into a never-ending cycle of depressing Twitter moments, angry threads, and controversial Hot Takes.
Everything and nothing has changed with Brexit
This week, Parliament reconvened after their Christmas holidays (sorry, Winter Recess) and got back to doing what they do best: arguing about Brexit.
With the Meaningful Vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal scheduled for Tuesday 15 January (unless she, you know, cancels it again), the Prime Minister embarked on yet another mission to convince MPs that her deal is as good as it’s going to get. She met with Trade Union leaders to try and rally Labour support for her deal, and the Prime Minister of Japan told her that No Deal would terrible for everyone in the world ever. Good.
The PM also suffered two major Brexit defeats this week. The first came on Tuesday, when MPs backed an amendment to the Finance Bill which stops the government raising certain taxes and taking financial steps to prepare for No Deal Brexit, unless Parliament explicitly authorises the UK leaving the EU without a deal. In practice, it doesn’t really mean much, but it’s being viewed as a significant blow to the government as it signals that MPs will not accept a No Deal scenario.
The second defeat came on Wednesday when Speaker of the House John Bercow made the controversial decision to allow MPs to vote on what’s been dubbed the Grieve Amendment. After lots of shouting and yelling about Bercow’s impartiality, MPs passed the amendment, which means Theresa May et al now only have three days to return to Parliament with a Plan B if MPs vote down her deal on Tuesday — instead of the three weeks that was previously law.
In other Brexit-related news, Jeremy Corbyn has called for a General Election as the only way to break the Brexit stalemate and has confirmed that Labour will table (another) Vote of No Confidence in the Government if May’s deal is defeated on Tuesday.
Mr President, don’t build that wall
Across the Atlantic, the US government shutdown continued as President Trump and the Democrats in the House failed to reach an agreement over Trump’s (frankly ridiculous and offensive) wall.
The Democrats have refused to approve a budget which includes funding for Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border, a key campaign promise of Trump in 2016. Until the Democrats approve the budget, Trump’s wall won’t get built and, more importantly, a number of government departments won’t get paid.
The partial shutdown is set to become the longest in US history, beating Bill Clinton’s previous record of 21 days.
With the Democrats refusing to approve Trump’s wall, and Trump refusing to give it up, the President is threatening to declare a national emergency, which would give him the power and money to build the wall without the House’s approval.
Universal Credit still universally criticised
In slightly happier news, the government have performed a U-turn over their controversial Universal Credit benefit. The Work and Pensions Secretary has scrapped plans to extend a benefits cap on families with more than two children. The change is thought to have saved 150,000 families from having their benefits cut.
Four working single women have also won their High Court challenge over the way Universal Credit is calculated. The scheme uses set assessment periods — from the 1st of the month to the end of the month — to calculate how much benefit a person should receive. Because of this, if a person gets paid slightly earlier than normal (for example, because of a weekend), they are deemed to have been paid twice in a month, and their payment is vastly reduced.
Elsewhere in the news…
Lady GaGa has apologised for collaborating with R Kelly, who has been accused of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse against many, primarily Black, women and girls.
Tennis star, Andy Murray, has announced that he’s retiring from tennis due to injury, with the Australian Open likely being his last tournament.
A Californian federal judge has dismissed actress Ashley Judd’s claims of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein — although he has agreed to hear her claim for defamation.
New at The Nopebook
Deputy Editor, Olivia Wright, looked at New Year’s resolutions and why she’s still absolutely here for making new goals on the 1st of January.
Nopebook writer, Mia Violet, interviewed fellow trans woman and author, Grace Mead, about her new book and what it’s like being a queer woman in America at the moment.