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Rishi Sunak drowing.

Jess Frampton

Sunak’s gamble leaves Tories on the edge of defeat

A week ago, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gambled his career, his legacy, and the future of the Conservative government by calling earlier-than-expected snap elections on July 4 – a seemingly no-win decision given that his party has been underwater by some 20 points in the polls.

Speaking of underwater, standing outside No. 10 Downing St. in the pouring rain without an umbrella (not the first nor last piece of evidence that his aides must really dislike him), the utterly soaked prime minister described his premature date with destiny as “a moment for Britain to choose its future.” Sunak argued that the most geopolitically dangerous global environment in decades (fact-check: true) calls for the stability and predictability at the helm of the UK government that only Tories can deliver (although “stability” and “predictability” are surely not the first two words that come to mind when I think of the last several years of mostly shambolic Conservative rule). The address also previewed a bitterly personal campaign against Labour leader Keir Starmer, accusing him of being willing to say anything to win power and then go back on his word (aka a politician).

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First Minister Humza Yousaf and his wife Nadia El-Nakla leaving Bute House, the official residence of First Minister, after he announced that he will resign as SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister, avoiding having to face a no confidence vote in his leadership. Mr Yousaf's premiership has been hanging by a thread since he ended the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens last week. Picture date: Monday April 29, 2024

PA via Reuters

Turmoil in Scotland as first minister resigns

On Monday, Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, announced he would resign following a controversial move last week to end the SNP’s power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party. Once Yousaf’sresignation is formalized, Scotland will need a new first minister within 28 days.

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Calton Hill and Edinburgh city scenic view at sunset Beautiful view of Edinburgh at sunset Edinbourgh United Kingdom.

IMAGO/Offenberg

Labour takes the lead in Scotland

Good news for Britain’s Labour Party: Anew poll from YouGov shows that, for the first time in nearly a decade, the party leads in Scotland, a result that can bolster its already-high odds of winning the UK’s next general election, probably this fall.

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty at the Conservative Party's conference.

Reuters

Sunak makes his big pitch

In his first major address to the British Conservative Party conference since becoming prime minister last fall, Rishi Sunak certainly ruffled some feathers.

The biggest announcement at the conference, held in Manchester, was Sunak’s decision to scrap the northern part of the HS2 railway project, Britain’s first extended high-speed rail network, planned to run through the country’s nucleus. Scrapping this leg of the route means severing the path between Birmingham and Manchester.

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Grant Shapps leaves Downing Street after being appointed Defence Secretary in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's mini-reshuffle.

Reuters

Meet the UK’s new defense secretary

After British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace resigned from his post this week, PM Rishi Sunak tapped Conservative MP Grant Shapps to take his place.

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on board a government plane as he heads to Washington.

Reuters

What does the UK’s Sunak want from Biden?

The so-called special US-UK relationship has taken a series of hits in recent years – think Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Brexit – but things appear to have gotten back on track under President Joe Biden and PM Rishi Sunak.

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Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu demonstrate as a Turkish court reaches a verdict in his trial.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

What We're Watching: Turkish political verdict, Nagorno-Karabakh flareup, Sunak's immigration plan, Lula's military

Bombshell ruling in Turkey

On Wednesday, a Turkish court sentenced Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu to 2.5 years in prison for the obviously heinous crime of calling election officials "fools" after they annulled the result of the May 2019 race he won. Context: Imamoglu's slim victory then was questioned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Law & Justice party, which forced a rerun only to see Imamoglu win again by a wider margin. The double loss was a slap in the face for Erdoğan, who is running for re-election just six months from now — with Imamoglu favored to be his main rival. On the one hand, Erdogan is trying to pull the oldest authoritarian trick in the book by getting loyalist judges to throw his enemy in jail. On the other, since Imamoglu will surely appeal, the snail-pace legal system won’t confirm his conviction ahead of the presidential vote. Will Erdogan’s move further boost the mayor in the polls, convincing an alliance of six opposition parties to pick Imamoglu as their candidate? Throwback: in 1997, when Erdoğan himself was mayor of Istanbul, he did time in jail and was banned from political office for … reciting a controversial poem. Five years later he was elected as Turkey’s first Islamist PM.

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UK: Truss out, lettuce see what comes next?

In the end, poor Liz Truss didn’t even outlast that head of lettuce. At best, she stuck it out for barely four “Scaramuccis.” There are many ways to clock the downfall of the UK prime minister, who resigned on Thursday morning after just 45 days in office, marking the shortest premiership in British history.

Now the UK, which has already had three PMs in as many years, will have had three in less than two months. For a European country that’s not Italy, that’s a lot. And there is no guarantee that things will calm down anytime soon.

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