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Vox Sentences: Great Brexpectations

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Theresa May reschedules a critical vote on Brexit; alleged Russian spy Maria Butina has made a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

The Brexit vote that wasn’t

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a critical Parliament vote on Brexit, just one day before the vote was supposed to take place. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • Basically, May saw the writing on the wall that the deal she negotiated to formally take Britain out of the European Union was likely to fail in Parliament — by a significant margin. [Washington Post / William Booth, Michael Birnbaum, and Karla Adam]
  • May has admitted as much to British officials, and is going back out to keep negotiating the terms of Brexit with members of the European Union. Right now it’s unclear when the next vote will happen, but it could be as late as January. [Guardian / Peter Walker and Jessica Elgot]
  • The biggest point of contention here is over what’s known as the “Irish backstop,” a deal over the border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • It’s complicated, but basically, May wants to preserve an open border between the two, which means the UK still could have ties to the EU, rather than pulling out entirely. That doesn’t please those in British government who want a complete and total exit (including those in May’s own party). [BBC]
  • Until now, it’s back to the negotiating table. But the past few days have seen a string of failures for May. It isn’t totally clear what the path forward is, but what is clear is that Britain remains a country divided about Brexit. [New Yorker / Sam Knight]

Spy games and plea deals

  • In a surprise shift, alleged Russian spy Marina Butina has made some sort of deal with federal prosecutors, requesting a “change of plea hearing” on Monday. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • There’s a lot we still don’t know about what’s in Butina’s plea deal with prosecutors, but one possibility is that Butina could provide information to prosecutors. She had been charged with one count of conspiracy and another of acting as an agent of a foreign government in America, allegedly under the direction of one of Putin’s top officials. [NYT / Matthew Rosenberg]
  • Outwardly, Butina told people she was a Russian gun rights activists who built connections with people in the Republican Party, the National Rifle Association, and other conservative groups. She has maintained that she was a student who wanted to improve relations between the US and Russia. [CNN / Sara Murray and Katelyn Polantz]
  • Butina also met with members of the Trump campaign in 2016, including Donald Trump Jr., but it’s unclear whether prosecutors are looking into those meetings or if it’s a focus of their investigation. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]


  • Former Colorado governor and rumored 2020 presidential candidate John Hickenlooper can put an oddly specific number on his likelihood of running: 63 to 64 percent. [CNN’s David Wright via Twitter]
  • Have special effects plateaued in their ability to dazzle viewers? Why the industry wants to wow us again. [Vulture / Bilge Ebiri]
  • It’s that very exciting time (for me) when the year-end best music lists are released. Here’s NPR’s extensive list of the 50 best albums of 2018 for your work procrastination pleasure. [NPR Music]
  • The world’s most accomplished surfer is now turning his focus to engineering the perfect wave. But what does that mean for the future of the sport? [New Yorker / William Finnegan]


“The last thing I want to do is come in as a burn patient, and leave as a heroin addict.” [Camp Fire burn victim Bill Blevins to NYT / Sarah Maslin Nir]

Watch this: What we get wrong about affirmative action

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