This Month in Politics: December

Image: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 via Flickr
Image: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 via Flickr

Keeping up to date with developments in global politics and headlines can be time consuming and overwhelming. But yet, in our increasingly fast-paced world, knowing what’s happening is crucial. In this feature, The Yorker summarises some of the major political stories of the past month, helping to keep you feeling more informed. These stories are far from everything that happened in December and many of them are yet to reach their conclusion. As we enter 2019, here are some of the major political stories from the final month of 2018.


The word that everyone’s avoided all Christmas in an attempt to stop family arguments, Brexit has been a constant in the news this month. Theresa May has suffered defeat after defeat, but is still managing to struggle on. Early on in December, the government was found to be in contempt of parliament after its refusal to publish legal advice pertaining to Brexit. After the vote, the advice was released. The difficulties didn’t end there for May. On 12th December, the chairman of the 1922 Committee revealed that he had received the required 48 letters to trigger a vote of no confidence against May from her own party. Although she survived the vote, the opposition also tabled a motion of no confidence against her. In the meantime, parliament’s meaningful vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement has been delayed. The apparent incompetence of the government on this issue has prompted widespread frustration, with the campaign for a second referendum gaining traction by the day.

US troops pulled out of Syria

Late December saw Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops were set to pull out of Syria, claiming that ISIS has been defeated. The announcement shocked those within the U.S. military as well as the country’s allies, forcing Trump to agree to a longer timeframe in which to withdraw the U.S. personnel in the country.

Gatwick drone

The weekend before Christmas travel chaos ensued at the U.K.’s second-largest airport, as a series of drone appearances close to the runway caused the airport to ground all flights. The chaos continued over the weekend, with several attempts to re-open the runway foiled by repeated drone appearances. A couple from the local area were arrested in connection with the investigation and were subsequently released without charge. The 36 hours of airport closure has prompted discussions about the need for increased defence against drones, and questions as to how this happened in the first place.

US government shutdown

On 22nd December, the U.S. Government enacted a partial government shutdown in response to the refusal of the Senate to allocate Trump’s requested funding to build his much talked-about wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. As a result, all services not deemed “essential” to the running of the country have been halted, meaning that hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed (placed on leave), whilst some other “essential” workers are having to work without pay. This dispute has continued into the new year.

Channel migrants

The final week of 2018 was marked with the news of increased levels of migrants attempting to cross the Channel and land on the Kent coastline. From early November, around 220 people are known to have crossed the Channel. UK authorities are working with their counterparts in France to monitor the situation as it unfolds.