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Tony Blair: 3 Challenges Will Define Geopolitics in the Near Future | GZERO World

Tony Blair: 3 challenges will define geopolitics in the near future

Over 48 hours in early September, the United Kingdom got a new prime minister and a new monarch. Liz Truss and Charles III take over at a turbulent time in British politics: UK is suffering from a stagnant economy, sky-high energy prices aggravated by Russia's war in Ukraine, more Brexit fallout with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol, and Scots demanding a fresh independence vote.

(Note: This interview appeared as part of an episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Upheaval in UK: the sobering challenges facing new PM Truss & new King Charles III, on October 3, 2022, prior to Liz Truss' resignation as prime minister.)

In an in-depth interview for GZERO World, Ian Bremmer talks about all of these issues with former prime minister Tony Blair, who recalls what it was like to meet Queen Elizabeth II for the first time. (His first impression: deep respect for her historical experience.)

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New British Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak waves outside Tory HQ in London.

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Can this man save the UK?

On Tuesday, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak became the UK's prime minister after winning the Conservative Party leadership race. But he takes over from lettuce loser Liz Truss amid turbulent times — and faces historic challenges in steering the country out of its current mess.

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A combination picture shows Chinese leaders Xi Jinping, Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, and Li Xi.

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

What We’re Watching: Xi the all-powerful, Sunak the frontrunner, Shoigu the (nuclear) warmonger

All the secretary-general’s men

As expected, Xi Jinping was "re-elected" to a third term as secretary-general of China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday, a day after its 20th Congress wrapped up in Beijing. (The tightly scripted event had a bit of drama when his predecessor, Hu Jintao, was escorted out for “health reasons” as Xi looked on.) More importantly, the CCP unveiled its new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, now made up entirely of Xi loyalists.

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Liz Truss Resigns | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Liz Truss resignation ends most shambolic premiership in UK history

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Breaking news waits for nobody as I'm in a car on the way to a very early morning flight on the West Coast in the US. But no, Liz Truss has resigned.

We all knew it was coming, but of course, she gets to pick the actual moment of 44 days. Shortest-lived, most shambolic premiership in British history. And I mean, truly coming at a horrible time for the country. The economy is in free fall. Inflation, much worse than in the United States. An energy crunch coming this winter. You thought that the Boris Johnson premiership was bad, and it was certainly clownish. There were lots of scandals. But in terms of policy at least they were much more coherent, if not always correct than Truss' month and a bit.

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British Prime Minister Liz Truss

Reuters

Dead on arrival: The Truss and Trussonomics experiment is almost over

Things have been turbulent in the UK since the 2016 “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union – but the upheaval of the last six weeks may be among the most volatile episodes in modern British politics.

A recap. Newly installed Conservative PM Liz Truss introduced a tax cut plan last month – aka Trussonomics – to try to stimulate Britain’s inflation-ridden economy through a trickle-down effect by pushing for £45 billion ($50 billion) of tax cuts. But she failed to convince voters, markets, and even her own party that it could be paid for or succeed in addressing the cost-of-living crisis. Market turmoil and widespread criticism ensued.

In response, Truss backtracked on the corporate tax cuts and then, on Friday, sacrificed longtime ally and political soulmate, UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. She replaced him with Jeremy Hunt, a Conservative centrist who is the fourth person to take on this role since July. Importantly, on Monday, Hunt scrapped nearly all of Truss's mini-budget that sparked the recent chaos, causing the pound to rise slightly against the US dollar.

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Liz Truss’ unenviable new gig

Truss makes another U-turn, fires Kwarteng

On Friday, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss relieved Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng only 38 days into his tenure, replacing him with former Health and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. In a briefing after the decision, Truss said she would raise the corporate tax rate — reneging on a promise not to do so — by £18 billion ($20 billion) and admitted that her budget “went further and faster than markets were expecting.” Her announcement triggered a sell-off in the gilt market, as yields on long-term UK government bonds rose sharply, with more trouble expected on Monday. Analysts and traders assessed that the measures were not enough. The turmoil began three weeks ago, when now-sacked Chancellor Kwarteng led the new government’s charge to promise tax cuts without a plan to fund them, which sent the pound tumbling and the markets into a tizzy, leading to global criticism against Truss and her cabinet. Hunt, the new man in and an anti-Brexit “remainer,” has a tough gig ahead: he’s not just following the shortest chancellorship since 1970, or managing the reversal of the tax-cut plan to calm the markets – which had already anticipated the U-turn — but he’s also got to deal with a boss who's trying to keep her own job. Eurasia Group’s lead Europe analyst Mujtaba Rahman says that more than two dozen Tory MPs — including some of Truss’s original supporters — are planning to remove her from office before 2023. When asked today why she’s not resigning, Truss said: “My priority is making sure we deliver the economic stability that our country needs.”

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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Liz Truss arrives for the announcement of Britain's next Prime Minister at The Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

What We're Watching: Liz beats Rishi, Chile rejects charter change, Trump wins DOJ probe delay

Meet the UK's new PM

As expected, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss won the Conservative Party leadership race on Monday and will become the next British PM, replacing the disgraced Boris Johnson. Truss — a political chameleon who's popular with the Tory base — beat former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, a moderate technocrat, by a comfortable margin of 57% of party member votes. She now faces tough challenges at home and abroad. First, a looming recession compounded by a cost-of-living crisis and an energy crunch. Truss, who fancies herself as a modern Margaret Thatcher, plans to announce big tax cuts and perhaps a temporary freeze on energy bills for the most vulnerable Brits — which her economic guru has warned would be fiscally irresponsible. Second, a likely collision course with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol. Brace for rocky times ahead as Truss tries to convince Brussels to renegotiate the post-Brexit trade deal, which scrapped a hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. (No surprise then that Brussels is hardly looking forward to her moving into No. 10 Downing St.) On Tuesday, Truss will travel to Scotland to meet with Queen Elizabeth II, who as per tradition will ask her to form a government at the monarch's Balmoral summer residence.

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