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Conservative Party leadership debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak

Reuters

Is Truss pulling away?

The race to become the UK’s next prime minister has reached a crucial moment.

Though one new poll suggests Rishi Sunak may have cut into her sizeable lead, Liz Truss is still considered the likeliest choice to win the nationwide vote of Conservative Party members to lead the party and serve as PM, at least until the next national elections. A crucial endorsement from former rival Penny Mordaunt has boosted Truss still further.

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Russia Waging a Gas War with Europe | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Russia cutting Nord Stream 1 gas to undermine European leaders

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60:

Is Russia waging a gas war with Europe?

They certainly are. You have Nord Stream 1 back online after scheduled maintenance, and first was 40%, now 20% of normal volumes. Technical problem, that's what the Russians say. But of course, in reality it is because they know that the Europeans are moving to diversify away from Russian energy as fast as possible and the Russians are not letting them do it on their timeframe. Winter's coming and Russia's best opportunity to undermine European leaders and get a whole bunch of Europeans saying, "What are you doing? Why are you sanctioning the Russians, you're hurting us. We are the ones that are facing the economic pain as a consequence. We don't want you to." A bigger peace movement is if they make life impossible for the Europeans during winter this year. So, I mean, frankly, I'd be surprised if you have any Russian gas go into Germany, come winter this year. The Germans are aware of that possibility and they are very concerned about it. By the way, if the worse comes to worst you're talking about a 2a to 3% contraction of the EU economy. It's a big deal, but it's not a disaster. Next year will be easier for the Europeans.

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UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (L) and ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunk (R).

PA Images via Reuters Connect

Britain’s next prime minister

UK Conservative Party MPs voted on Thursday to advance Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to the final round of balloting for leadership of their party.

Some 160,000 party members around the country will now vote by mail to decide which of these two will serve as the UK’s next prime minister, at least until the next national election. The result of the vote won’t be known until Sept. 5.

On Monday, the two candidates will have their first head-to-head debate as the race enters the homestretch.

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Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: Draghi's departure, Russian annexation plans, two-way race for British PM

Draghi throws in the towel

Italy's embattled Prime Minister Mario Draghi finally stepped down on Thursday for a second time in a week, hours after winning a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday evening. This time, President Sergio Mattarella didn't reject his resignation but asked him to continue as caretaker PM, presumably until a fresh election is held.

The vote of confidence was partly hijacked by mass abstentions from three of the top parties in his coalition: the populist 5-Star Movement, the far-right Lega, and the center-right Forza Italia. The no-shows broke Draghi’s hopes of keeping together a strong majority, and in the end he kept his promise to stay on as PM only if he held the coalition together. That was impossible since both Lega and Forza Italia wanted to ditch 5-Star, which they blame for the government’s collapse after rejecting Draghi's energy crisis relief plan.

The PM's departure puts an end to 18 months of a fragile unity coalition government, and ushers in a period of deep uncertainty for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Inflation and energy costs are both surging, and Draghi didn't have time to pass the reforms necessary to unlock EU pandemic relief funds. Also, the next government might be led by the Euroskeptic far-right party Brothers of Italy, out of the coalition and whose leader Georgia Meloni celebrated the exit of "Super Mario".

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Trump speaks during a campaign rally when he was US president in Jacksonville, Florida.

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

What We’re Watching: GOP mulls Trump 2.0, UK leadership race heats up, energy crisis could get worse

Republican voters divided on Trump 2024

US Democrats seem to have soured on President Joe Biden, but are Republicans ready to turn their backs on former President Donald Trump? The short answer is: it’s complicated. A fresh New York Times poll shows about half of GOP voters don't want Trump to run a third time in 2024, but the other half do. The main takeaway is that Trump's once-formidable hold over the Republican Party has waned somewhat since (tumultuously) leaving office in January 2021, yet he still wields considerable influence with the base. Since hardcore Trump fans are more likely to turn out for primaries, he has been busy endorsing candidates for November’s midterm elections, so far with mixed results. The big test for Trump's stature within the GOP will be whether his picks can win in the general — especially the battle for control of the Senate, which Republicans are eager to flip (and only need one seat to do so). Meanwhile, there's growing chatter that Trump may announce his reelection bid before the midterms, which he hopes will freeze a potentially crowded GOP field in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now gaining on him.

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