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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.

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.

People walk as Tower Bridge is reflected in a tribute to Britain's Queen Elizabeth.


What We’re Watching: Bidding farewell to a queen, mass graves in Kharkiv, Pelosi in Armenia

UK bids farewell to Elizabeth II amid trying times

Some 2,000 people attended the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, including several hundred current and former world leaders, royals, and other dignitaries. US President Joe Biden, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and leaders from much of the Commonwealth, attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth II was married and crowned. (Invitations to attend the state funeral, the first since Winston Churchill died in 1965, were sent to heads of state or government of nearly every country except Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Russia, Belarus, and Myanmar.)

Hundreds of thousands visited the British capital for the queen's lying-in-state to pay their respects and thank her for her 70 years on the British throne. Once the ceremony is over, all eyes will turn to her son and successor, King Charles III, who takes over at a moment of deep uncertainty in the UK. While the monarch’s role is not political, a worsening cost-of-living crisis and energy crunch – combined with the revolving door of prime ministers since 2016’s Brexit vote – have left many Britons feeling disillusioned with the country’s leadership. What’s more, the 73-year-old Charles is hardly as popular as his beloved mother, and his ascent to the throne has already ignited a debate about the future of the British monarchy, both at home and in Commonwealth nations where he is now the nominal head of state.

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Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards carry flags of Commonwealth countries outside Buckingham Palace in London.

PA Images via Reuters

What is the Commonwealth?

She wasn’t just queen of the United Kingdom. The late Elizabeth II was also the leader of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 56 independent countries, the majority of which were once part of the British Empire. This includes 14 that continue to have the sovereign as their head of state.

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King Charles III delivers his address to the nation and the Commonwealth from Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Yui Mok via Reuters

What We're Watching: King Charles III addresses the nation, IAEA warns of potential Zaporizhzhia plant catastrophe

King Charles III makes first public address as monarch

King Charles III addressed the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the world on Friday with a public address following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Striking both a personal and formal tone, Charles paid tribute to his “darling mama” and her “unswerving devotion” to Britain. In discussing his faith, Charles said he was brought up to “cherish a sense of duty to others,” and he vowed to “solemnly pledge [himself] … to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.” He also spoke about the changing roles of his wife, Camilla, his Queen Consort, and his son William and daughter-in-law, Katherine, who now assume the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales. As Charles’s address aired, a service of remembrance was held for the late monarch at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Attendees included Britain’s newly installed prime minister, Liz Truss, who had her first meeting with the king earlier on Friday at Buckingham Palace. The queen’s coffin remains at Balmoral and will be moved this weekend to Holyrood, the royal residence in Edinburgh, where King Charles III – officially proclaimed the monarch on Saturday – and the Queen Consort will head on Sunday. A service will be held for the queen in Edinburgh on Sunday before her coffin is moved to London. Her funeral is expected to take place within two weeks at Westminster Abbey. World leaders, including President Joe Biden, will attend, paying tribute to a queen who worked with 15 prime ministers and met 13 US presidents throughout her 70-year reign.

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Queen Elizabeth's death marks turning point for the UK
Queen Elizabeth's Death May Change the UK | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Queen Elizabeth's death marks turning point for the UK

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Chelm, in Eastern Poland.

The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, is of course, a major, major event for the United Kingdom and for the world. She was really the last remaining link with an imperial past, with a turbulent and dramatic period for her country, and she gave it stability during a very long period of fundamental change. It will be another country as it enters the reign of King Charles III.

Annie Gugliotta

The end of an era: Queen Elizabeth II dies

There’s been an outpouring of grief across the UK – and the globe – after Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday at her estate in the Scottish Highlands at the age of 96.

BBC news presenters donned black suits even before her death was announced, while dignitaries and politicians prepared by purchasing black ties and armbands.

The Queen, who recently celebrated her Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years on the throne, was last seen in public earlier this week when she met with Britain's new prime minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence.

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The queen was a beacon of stability in an era of domestic and international upheaval.

Dan Kitwood-WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, dead at 96

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in the history of the United Kingdom and virtually in world history, has died at the age of 96 in Balmoral, Scotland. She is succeeded by her son Charles, 73, now King Charles III.

Queen Elizabeth’s reign spanned roughly one-third of America’s entire existence (and nearly half of Canada’s, if you’re keeping count). Fifteen different UK prime ministers served under her, starting with Winston Churchill and ending with Liz Truss. During this time, the United Kingdom went from global power and industrial powerhouse to a post-European middle power. She lived through and reigned over the colonial era, the end of the British Empire, and the UK’s exit from Europe.

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