BREXIT BLOWS UP

BREXIT BLOWS UP

A fragile peace within the UK’s governing Conservative Party has been shattered in the past two days, with the fate of Brexit negotiations and Theresa May’s government in the balance. To put it politely, the prime minister’s Brexit plan was never going to be an easy sell.


Here’s a snapshot of the challenges she faces:

Theresa May leads a party and a nation deeply divided over what sort of relationship they want with Europe. Many who hope to ensure European institutions have no future say in how the UK crafts its laws and controls its borders will never be satisfied with anything less than a so-called “Hard Brexit,” a sharp break from the EU and its rules. On the other side, those who believe the UK must maintain as much continued access as possible to European markets see Hard Brexit as a blind leap from a speeding train.

Since taking over from David Cameron in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, May’s task has been to develop a plan specific enough on the terms of exit to win a green light from EU negotiators and vague enough on the future of UK-EU economic relations to prevent her party from dividing in two. She then needed to persuade her cabinet ministers to publicly back the plan. Then, the proposal would have to pass muster in 27 European capitals and a vote in the House of Commons.

Forty-eight hours ago, it appeared the best argument for her makeshift compromise, a plan that would leave the UK in a temporary customs union with the EU to avoid restoration of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, was the lack of a clear alternative, either to her proposal or her leadership. That may still be the case.

But on Thursday, Dominic Raab, her Brexit secretary, became the seventh minister to quit the government in the past year, igniting an open revolt from some in the Hard Brexit camp. Raab, a central figure in drafting May’s 585-page plan, claims the deal might leave the UK “locked into a regime with no say over the rules being applied.” Tensions between May and this faction will only deepen between now and mid-December, when a vote on the deal is expected in parliament.

What’s next? May, who used a press conference yesterday to appeal directly to the British people, vows to soldier on and advance her plan. Some within her party have called for a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister, and it remains unclear as of Friday morning whether their number is enough to force one.

The ultimate Brexit questions remain:

  • Is it possible to craft any Brexit deal that can win approval both in the UK and across Europe?

  • If not, is the UK doomed to crash out of the EU toward an unknown future?

  • Might Britain be headed instead toward a second Brexit vote?

  • If so, and it produces a different outcome, how can future British governments mind the gap in public and official opinion that Brexit has created?

  • If a second vote were to produce the same outcome, what would come next?

The ongoing political chaos in London suggests we’re no closer to answers.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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