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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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British PM candidate Rishi Sunak walks next to his campaign headquarters in London.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

It's Rishi

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to become the UK's next prime minister as the only candidate with support from more than 100 MPs in the Conservative Party leadership race.

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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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UK Prime Minister Liz Truss resigns.

GZERO Media

UK's Liz Truss resigns

There have been jokes about whether UK Prime Minister Liz Truss could outlast a head of lettuce. But who’s laughing now? The newly installed British leader announced on Thursday that she’s resigning, unable to fulfill the promise of a low-tax, high-growth strategy for getting the post-Brexit economy moving. Truss noted that her government had delivered on reducing energy bills and cutting national insurance fees. But given the energy and economic crises — UK inflation hit a whopping 10.1% in the latest figures — and Russia’s war on Ukraine, which she said “threatens the security of our whole continent,” her plan for growth is untenable. Truss will stay on in the post, much like predecessor Boris Johnson did, until a replacement is found. A Tory leadership contest will come next, but any hopes for immediate solutions to the UK’s mounting crises have been dashed.

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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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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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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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