Frank Langfitt | WYPR

Frank Langfitt

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British Prime Minister Theresa May gave one of the most important speeches of her political career Wednesday morning. It could not have gone much worse.

The speech, which she delivered to a packed audience of her fellow Conservative Party members in Manchester, started reasonably well — until a prankster approached the stage. The man handed the leader of the United Kingdom a P-45 form, the British equivalent of a pink slip.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg set a record for the longest word spoken in the British Parliament in 2012. The Conservative Party lawmaker aimed this hifalutin insult at the European Court of Justice:

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The United Kingdom won't leave the European Union until 2019. But some U.K. employers are already feeling a Brexit effect. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from the county of Kent.

(SOUNDBITE OF FORKLIFT REVVING)

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Standing outside 10 Downing St. today, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May tried to put a brave face on the disastrous results of Thursday's vote.

After calling a snap election in April in anticipation of a landslide, she ended up with an electoral train wreck, in which her Conservative Party actually lost its parliamentary majority. It now holds 318 seats.

Clinging to power, May said the Tories would form a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which won 10 seats.

Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET

British police have identified Salman Abedi, 22, as the bomber behind the attack on an Ariana Grande concert Monday in Manchester, England. Abedi died in the bombing, which claimed the lives of at least 22 victims and injured dozens more — many of whom were children.

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Updated at 10 a.m. ET Monday

Emmanuel Macron — an independent centrist who has never held elected office — has won a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most important French presidential race in decades.

According to the French Interior Ministry and multiple news outlets, Macron won with near 66 percent of the vote over Le Pen's just over 34 percent.

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Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Emmanuel Macron, a centrist politician who's never held elective office, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right firebrand who wants to take France out of the European Union, are expected to advance to next month's runoff for the presidency of the country, according to official results.

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Today the United Kingdom formally told the European Union it is leaving, after decades of membership in the 28-nation political alliance and trading bloc. The move triggers an estimated two-year divorce process that will involve many months of tough negotiations and will launch Britain on a new, uncertain path.

Addressing the House of Commons in London, Prime Minister Theresa May said Brexit is an opportunity for her country to chart a new course, unencumbered by the bureaucracy of the multilateral organization based in Brussels.

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After the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's U.S. victory last year, political analysts wonder if populism will gain ground on the European continent amid the impact of a migration crisis and dissatisfaction with the European Union. With elections approaching in France, Germany and the Netherlands, the question has gained urgency.

Today is Pancake Day in the United Kingdom, or Shrove Tuesday, as it's known on the Christian calendar. It's a time for indulging before the beginning of Lent and, in Britain, racing around with a frying pan, flipping pancakes.

London Bridge isn't falling down, but Britain's Parliament building — which sits along the River Thames and includes Big Ben — needs a ton of work. U.K. lawmakers are now analyzing a massive rehab plan that will cost billions of dollars and could force legislators to work somewhere else for years.

As thousands protested outside the U.K. Parliament on Monday, members inside debated whether President Trump should receive the honor of meeting the queen on a state visit later this year. State visits by U.S. presidents are rare in Britain; Labour Party lawmaker Paul Flynn noted that only two — Barack Obama and George W. Bush — have made them.

The parliamentary debate was triggered by a petition opposing the state visit, signed by more than 1.8 million people. Another petition supporting a state visit garnered just over 300,000 signatures.

Like millions of Americans, I watched the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, as he tried to convince reporters and viewers last weekend that President Trump's inauguration was the most watched ever — "both in person and around the globe, period!"

Spicer made his case even though photos of the National Mall show that attendance was much smaller than at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, which – incidentally – I covered.

Among the guests at Friday's inauguration will be one of Donald Trump's political kindred spirits, a fellow populist who railed against immigration and helped drive an electoral upset that stunned the world.

British politician Nigel Farage was a crucial force behind last June's Brexit referendum. Trump became so fond of him, the president-elect suggested the British government appoint Farage to be the U.K.'s ambassador to Washington — advice Prime Minister Theresa May ignored.

Voters in the English city of Sunderland did something extraordinary last June. They voted by 61.3 percent to leave the European Union, even though it put tens of thousands of local jobs at risk.

Why would so many people vote against the economic interests of their hometown?

The answer lies in factors that also figured in the American presidential race: opposition to immigration and a perceived threat to white identity.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Imran Akhtar set up a folding table loaded with drug paraphernalia outside the Birmingham Central Mosque in the English Midlands. Akhtar's wares included a pair of syringes and a baggie containing a brown substance that looked like heroin.

Some 30 feet away, people were showing off more conventional fare, including perfume, hijab and prayer rugs. As worshippers poured out following prayers, Akhtar, a bearded father of three, made his pitch.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

In a break with diplomatic protocol, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has recommended that pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage become the United Kingdom's ambassador in Washington, D.C.

In a tweet Monday night, Trump said: "Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!"

On Monday in North Carolina, Donald Trump promised to pull off a "Brexit, Plus, Plus, Plus." He was referring to the surprise vote in June by people in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Given the polls at the time in the U.S., pollsters in London saw that boast as a stretch — but early Wednesday morning, Trump delivered on that pledge.

Speaking in North Carolina on the final day of the presidential campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump urged voters to go to the polls and deliver an Election Day upset.

"It's going to be Brexit plus, plus, plus," he said Monday, referring to the surprise victory in last June's referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

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Daniel Brewer arrived in London on Sunday morning wearing a Jacksonville Jaguars onesie and face paint, complete with black whiskers, brown spots and a blue nose. He had come with fellow fans from the English city of Reading to cheer on the Jags as they took on the Indianapolis Colts beneath sunny skies at Wembley Stadium.

"None of us naturally are Jags fans," Brewer confided. "We all have our own roots, but because they signed a contract, they've got our hearts."

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