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Podcast: "United" Kingdom? Tony Blair on Truss, Charles, Brexit, and division in UK & beyond


Listen: In the span of just 48 hours in early September, the United Kingdom got a new prime minister, Liz Truss, and a new monarch, King Charles III. Both face big challenges in their new roles. For Truss, the Tory leader: a range of issues from inflation to the ongoing fallout of Brexit. For Charles: the relevance of the monarchy itself, now that Britain's longest-serving and much-beloved queen is gone. The United Kingdom also faces staggering inflation and a looming energy crunch. On the GZERO World Podcast, Ian Bremmer talks with a man who occupied 10 Downing Street for a decade - former prime minister Tony Blair - about the road ahead for his country. Blair believes there will be a lot of uncertainty over the next year or two if Truss insists on big tax cuts and big borrowing. He also looks back at the queen's legacy and the future of the monarchy, explains why Brexit will hurt - but probably not fragment - the UK, and argues that we need to return to his comfort zone of the political center to fix today's problems.

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Tony Blair: UK Faces “Very Uncertain Period” | GZERO World

Tony Blair on Liz Truss & a post-Brexit UK on the brink

Despite sky-high inflation and a plummeting pound, the UK’s newly installed PM Liz Truss has introduced tax cuts — requiring a lot more government borrowing — that she says will boost the UK’s sluggish growth rate.

This approach, which could result in the Bank of England increasing interest rates even more to tackle inflation, is ruffling feathers in Westminster and negatively impacting markets around the globe. On the sidelines of the UN general Assembly, Ian Bremmer sat down with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on GZERO World to discuss Britain’s economic woes and recent change in leadership.

“I think it's going to be a very uncertain period over the next year or so,” Blair said. “And I talk to a range of different people about this, which is always a problem when you're trying to make economic policy in government, and no one agrees with each other.”

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Europe Apprehensive About Liz Truss, New UK Prime Minister | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

How new UK PM Liz Truss will impact UK/EU relations

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Riga, Latvia.

What's the European attitude to Liz Truss as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom?

Well, welcome to her. It has to be said that I think the jury's still out. There are sort of some apprehensions because she's dug herself down into some pretty unconstructive positions concerning the UK relationship with the EU. I hope she can get out of that because we do need a better relationship between the EU and the UK.

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves Downing Street in London

REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Liz Truss’ unenviable new gig

The UK will have a new prime minister on Sept. 6. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is all but assured to move into Downing Street next week, beat a crowded Tory field vying to replace outgoing party boy Boris Johnson.

Truss takes over at one of the most perilous times in recent British history. What will be the major challenges at home and abroad — and which of these problems are of Truss’ own making?

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Jess Frampton

What We’re Watching: Taming US inflation, China’s water claims, Boris vs EU

US Fed vs inflation — game on

This week, the US Federal Reserve is set to increase interest rates by as much as 75 basis points or more in a bid to tamp down soaring inflation. Last Friday's inflation report showed prices growing at an annual rate of 8.6%, the highest in over 40 years. That price growth reflects today’s higher fuel and food prices, brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine, lingering pandemic-related supply chain constraints, and Biden’s own pandemic stimulus spending. It will now fall largely to the Fed to rein things in. The effects of the Fed’s move this week will be watched closely by markets to be sure, but also by political strategists on both sides of the aisle. Just five months out from the US midterm elections, economic issues top US voters’ concerns, and recent polls say they trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to taming inflation.

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British PM Boris Johnson looking perplexed.

Reuters

Boris Johnson narrowly escapes defeat

A few days ago I returned from London, where the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was infectious. Even hipster establishments in East London were toasting the monarch and mixing Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite cocktails (it’s a classy gin and Dubonnet aperitif).

But the air of celebration has since given way to a political onslaught with Conservative lawmakers holding a no-confidence vote on Monday to determine the political fate of their embattled prime minister and party leader, Boris Johnson.

Johnson came out on top, but only just. Some 148 Tories – 32 shy of the 180 needed to remove him – voted in favor of ditching the PM, while 211 backed him. Boris is safe with a majority of 63, but he emerges with diminished political strength as a result.

What went so wrong? During the darkest days of the pandemic in May 2020 – when heads of state around the globe were hemorrhaging domestic support – Johnson maintained a respectable approval rating of 66%.

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Annie Gugliotta

Boris Johnson’s Irish weapon

To keep one’s political allies onside, it helps to have the right enemies. Especially when one is in trouble. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in serious trouble. The scandal resulting from his attendance at parties during COVID lockdowns and from the perception that he lied about it has taken a toll on Johnson’s popularity. His aggressive support for Ukraine against Russian invaders hasn’t done enough to boost his support.

For now, says Eurasia Group Europe expert Mujtaba Rahman, “a silent majority within Johnson’s Conservative Party refuse to support him but have not yet decided to try to oust him.” Johnson might survive if he makes it to summer without a leadership challenge. But, “a growing number of critics within his party believe the crunch moment is coming sooner than that,” warns Rahman.

Crunch time may begin next Thursday, May 5, after votes are counted from local elections across the UK. The results will be widely judged as a referendum on Johnson’s government, and poor Conservative Party performance could push him to the edge of a political cliff.

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Women in politics whose names you should know in 2022

Was it the year of the woman? Angela Merkel left the political stage. New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern and Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen were given gold stars for their respective responses to the pandemic. And Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya emerged as Belarus’ democracy warrior.

As COVID lingers – and thrives – it’s clear that 2022 will be packed with immensely complicated political problems for all countries. Many female leaders will be at the forefront of efforts to meet complex domestic and international challenges over the next 12 months. Here are four of them.

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