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We’re covering the Conservative Party’s big victory in the British election, a potential breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade war and the antitrust campaign against Facebook.
Conservatives win British election, paving way for Brexit
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s incessant campaign pledge to finally take Britain out of the European Union has worked: His Conservative Party won a large parliamentary majority on Thursday in a hugely important general election. Mr. Johnson said early today that it looked as though his government now had “a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done.”
Based on official results, the BBC projected that the Conservatives would win about 365 seats in the House of Commons, giving them a 74-seat majority. That should enable Mr. Johnson to lead Britain through Brexit in January, probably with an orderly deal as opposed to the crash-out that many had feared.
In a country that has “lurched from crisis to crisis” since voters narrowly chose Brexit in a 2016 referendum, two of our veteran correspondents write, Thursday’s result provides “a rare moment of piercing clarity.” It’s also a resounding vindication for a prime minister whose tenure has so far been marred by ceaseless upheaval.
Conservatives: The party was projected to win dozens of Labour seats in the industrial north and the Midlands, shattering the so-called red wall of support that has undergirded the Labour Party’s political fortunes for generations.
The currency: In a sign of relief that British politics would probably stabilize, the British pound rose as much as 2 percent as results began to trickle in, its strongest level since June 2018.
Labour: Analysts say the party’s apparent collapse — potentially its weakest electoral showing since before World War II — could take a decade or more to overcome. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is likely to face calls to resign.
Earlier today, Mr. Corbyn told reporters that he would not lead the party in “any future general election campaign.” But he vowed to stay on as leader for the time being to ensure a process “of reflection on this result and on the policies that the party will take going forward.”
Jo Swinson: The leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats, who was once seen as a potential kingmaker in Britain’s political scene, narrowly lost her parliamentary seat to a rival in the Scottish National Party.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party was projected to exceed expectations by winning 55 of Scotland’s 59 seats at Westminster, a 20-seat gain that puts the party in a position of almost total dominance in Scottish politics.
One result may be further calls for another vote on Scottish independence — and rising tensions between London and Edinburgh.
Trump hints at a trade war breakthrough
President Trump is expected to announce today that he will delay or cancel $160 billion in planned tariffs — scheduled to go into effect on Sunday — that would result in the United States taxing nearly everything China ships into the country.
When Mr. Trump hinted at the agreement on Twitter on Thursday, he sent U.S. stocks soaring to record highs. Yet the agreement hasn’t been finished, and it is unclear whether Beijing has agreed to the details.
Details: Mr. Trump, who has long said China’s trade practices are unfair to American companies, has agreed to significantly reduce tariffs he has placed on $360 billion of Chinese goods, several people familiar with the negotiations said. China, in return, would agree to buy American farm products and make other concessions.
Background: Beijing and Washington have previously indicated they were on the verge of a trade deal — just before talks collapsed.
If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it
The Bauhaus for war
Among other things, a team at the agency — the direct precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency — honed the concept of a “situation room,” above, where key decisions about war and peace are still made at the White House. The team was led by Eero Saarinen, a prolific Finnish-American architect.
Here’s what else is happening
U.S. impeachment: House Democrats are expected to approve along party lines today two impeachment articles against President Trump, a day after holding a bitter debate over them with Republican critics. The articles charge that Mr. Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals, and later obstructed Congress by defying related subpoenas.
Afghanistan: Three months after the country’s disputed presidential vote, its electoral process is still stalled, and a U.S.-brokered compromise — like the one that resolved a similar dispute in 2014 — looks unlikely. Our correspondent interviewed the political veteran Abdullah Abdullah, a presidential candidate locked in a bitter standoff with election officials.
E.U. farm subsidies: As the European Parliament prepares to renew the bloc’s seven-year farm bill next year, our reporters looked at connections between the continent’s powerful agricultural lobby and the E.U. lawmakers who have ties to the very industries they are supposed to regulate.
Facebook: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating the social network for antitrust concerns, may take the rare step of seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the company from carrying out a plan to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
Armenian genocide: The U.S. Congress passed legislation that formally designates the 1915 mass killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire — the precursor to the Republic of Turkey — as a genocide. The White House had objected to the symbolic measure, saying it would damage relations with Turkey.
Algeria: The police beat back protesters at voting stations, as the authorities continued with an election that was broadly rejected by much of the population.
Croatia: Two Nigerian students who traveled to Zagreb for a table tennis tournament were arrested, driven to a forest next to the Bosnian border and forced to walk across it at gunpoint. The episode highlights how European governments have used violence in an effort to avoid a repeat of the continent’s 2015 migration crisis.
The Holocaust: As it grapples with its own history of Nazi support, the German family behind Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and other franchises pledged to donate 5 million euros to an assistance fund for Holocaust survivors.
What we’re reading: The Space Explorer Mike Twitter feed. “We can’t all be astronauts, but there are no limits on the travels our minds can take,” writes the Briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell. “And this account always has a launch pad.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This weekend, set up a batch of slow cooker salsa verde chicken and let it simmer all day.
Read: Emmanuel Carrère, author of the nonfiction classic “The Adversary,” has a new collection of essays.
Smarter Living: Brow and lash serums make a lot of promises, but many do little — and the ones that actually stimulate growth have notable potential side effects.
And now for the Back Story on …
Friday the 13th
The horror novelist Stephen King is a triskie. He’s also a friggatriskaidekaphobe. Or, if you prefer, a paraskavedekatriaphobe.
While a triskie — a triskaidekaphobe, that is — is creeped out by the number 13, the other two are terrified of Friday the 13ths. Like today.
“It’s neurotic, sure. But it’s also … safer,” Mr. King wrote in an article for The Times in 1984, listing some unlucky Friday the 13ths in history. (When he reads a book, he won’t stop on page 94, page 193 — or any page whose digits add up to 13.)
Franklin Roosevelt (He was acutely afraid of the number 13 and would avoid traveling on Fridays).
Sholom Aleichem, the Yiddish author and playwright who created the character Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.” (His manuscripts never had a page 13; he numbered them 12a.)
And the Austrian-American composer Arnold Schoenberg, who was so panicked by his superstition that he died on a Friday the 13th in 1951.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a good weekend.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the fate of Brexit.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: “That’s the truth!” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
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