This Month in Politics: November

Image: Ilovetheeu via Wikimedia Commons
Image: Ilovetheeu via Wikimedia Commons
Image: Ilovetheeu via Wikimedia Commons

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 November and many of them are yet to reach their conclusion. However, these are some of the most notable political developments from the past month.

US Midterms

This month began with the U.S. Midterm elections, a round of voting often seen as a referendum on the current administration. Given the various scandals and outrages that have plagued Trump since he set foot in the White House (and even before, given his “locker room talk”) the results were always going to be worth keeping an eye on. Ultimately, the Democrats took control of the House but the Republicans made gains in the Senate, leaving Congress split between the two parties and ending Republican control. So what does this mean practically? The Democratic win of the House has been hailed as a victory over the Trump administration, with their majority meaning that they will be able to launch investigations into the president and his administration. It also means that they are better placed to block much of Trump’s political agenda. However, an increased Republican presence in the Senate still gives Trump a fair amount of control, particularly over the appointment of judges.

Trump administration illegally blocks asylum claims

Political news from America has dominated much of this month’s reporting, and this is no exception. Early in November, Trump moved to ban immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally from seeking asylum. This move further demonstrates the Trump administration’s obsession with immigration, and seems in line with the fearful rhetoric seen throughout his presidential campaign. However, this move has been temporarily stopped by a federal judge in California. Whether it eventually comes into force remains to be seen.


Aside from American politics, November has been heavy with Brexit news. On Wednesday 14th November the cabinet met to discuss Theresa May’s final Brexit deal. Initially she seemed to have just about gained the support of her cabinet, allowing the deal to be taken to parliament. However, the next day saw a flurry of resignations from senior and junior government minsters, including Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary, and Esther McVey, Work and Pensions Secretary. These resignations prompted whisperings of a vote of no confidence against May, as well as facilitating the return of formerly disgraced Amber Rudd to the cabinet. In the following weeks, calls for a People’s Vote on the final deal have grown and it remains unlikely that May will get enough of her own and opposition MPs to vote her deal through parliament on 11th December. Given the further twists and turns that Brexit has taken since December has begun (in particular the fact that May’s government have been found in contempt of Parliament over initial refusal to publish legal advice on May’s deal) it is becoming increasingly impossible to predict how this will end.

UAE life sentence for British academic

Tensions between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom grew after British academic, Matthew Hedges, was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying after travelling to Dubai to conduct research. Questions have been asked about the fairness of the trial and interrogation, as well as the conditions under which Hedges was detained. After widespread international pressure, the United Arab Emirates subsequently pardoned and released him later on in the month.

Mueller investigation

November has seen several developments in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2019 presidential election. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, has been accused by the investigation of lying to the FBI. This development remains one in a long line of unclear suggestions of fraudulent campaigning during the 2016 election, and it remains to be seen what the final conclusions of the investigation will be.