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Short or long?
EU leaders will decide later whether to grant the UK a second Brexit delay. There’s little doubt that one will be offered, but the crucial question is how long it will be. Theresa May has asked for an extension until 30 June, with the hope she can get the country out even sooner than that. But European Council President Donald Tusk says there’s “little reason to believe” she can unite Westminster by then, so a flexible extension of up to a year – with strict conditions – is preferable. That’s significantly less palatable for many in the UK, especially given it’ll mean we have to elect a whole new set of MEPs in May.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg says the next big question is what will the prime minister do with a delay once it’s granted? Will it even be up to her, given that a long delay could push hungry Tories who want a change of leadership into action?
Talks between ministers and Labour continue to try to find a Brexit compromise, but our political editor says the more talking they do, the tougher the task of bringing the sides together reveals itself to be. The divisions may simply be too great, so at that point, Mrs May has promised that all MPs will get a choice – a binding one – on the way forward.
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It’s the UK’s biggest department store chain with 166 stores and about 25,000 employees, but on Tuesday, Debenhams’ long-anticipated slide into administration finally came to pass. Our piece looks at what happens now with the chain in the control of lenders and controversial retail boss Mike Ashley still keen to get his hands on it. How did things go wrong? BBC business reporter Rebecca Marston picks out three big problems that brought Debenhams to crisis point.
Skills gap solution?
Locations have been announced for a dozen new Institutes of Technology, designed to offer a high-quality vocational alternative to university. They’ll be based in further education colleges and universities in England, will each have an industry specialism, and will use the expertise of relevant employers. The UK has long been seen as lagging behind other nations when it comes to advanced technical skills, but Labour says these plans are too small-scale – and the government funding of £170m too little – to genuinely tackle that problem.
The man who wants 900 million votes
By Soutik Biswas, BBC India correspondent
Narendra Modi is a preternaturally confident politician and a tireless campaigner. Modi is also pugnacious, deftly mixing nationalism, dog-whistle politics and populism. He’s adept at creating binaries: the nationalists (his supporters) versus the anti-nationals (his political rivals and critics); the watchman (Modi himself, protecting the country on “land, air, and outer space”) versus the entitled and the corrupt (an obvious dig at the main opposition Congress party). Sometimes his campaign also sounds like he’s blaming previous governments for all ills – rather than a vision for the present.
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What the papers say
“Will we ever escape EU clutches?” is the despairing headline on the front page of the Daily Express, as the papers lead on Brexit once again. The Guardian says the prime minister’s hopes of leaving by the end of June have been “dashed”. The Daily Mail blames “inept” MPs for the “humiliating” prospect of “another year in limbo”. The Daily Telegraph says many senior Tories believe a long Brexit extension will make Theresa May’s tenure unsustainable and the party may change the rules to remove her if she doesn’t resign. Elsewhere, 10 years after the expenses scandal, the Daily Mirror has been totting up how much MPs have made from selling homes that were partly paid for by taxpayers. It estimates that 160 of them shared profits of £42m – with some making one million pounds each. Finally, the Sun claims the government’s own research suggests that its plan to ban adverts for junk food before nine at night will cut just two calories a day from children’s diets – the equivalent of less than half a Smartie.
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