Johnson attends a news conference during a NATO summit in Madrid.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Britain’s bombshell resignations

The hits keep coming for the scandal-plagued administration of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, both of them heavyweights in the Conservative Party, quit Johnson's government. The trigger came in the wake of MP Chris Pincher’s resignation last week. Pincher stepped down amid new allegations of sexual misconduct. But the party controversy has erupted over the PM’s decision to appoint Pincher as deputy chief whip in the first place. He denied being aware of earlier sexual misconduct allegations against Pincher. Those stemmed from Johnson’s tenure as foreign secretary, when Pincher served under him. The PM was forced to acknowledge this week that he had been briefed on the matter. On Tuesday, Johnson admitted that appointing Pincher had been a mistake. Johnson survived an embarrassing vote of no confidence on June 6 following revelations that he participated in social gatherings that violated COVID lockdown rules and failed to come clean with parliament. But the Pincher scandal and these bombshell resignations now have Johnson’s political career on life support.

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Paige Fusco

Signal spoke with Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerry Butts about Europe’s future given the uncertainty created by both Russian aggression and America’s volatile politics. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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G7 and EU leaders gather for a group shot at Schloss Elmau castle in Germany.

REUTERS/Lukas Barth

Western leaders up the ante

Leaders of the G7 — the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada — have ended their gathering in the Bavarian Alps, and all of them, including non-NATO member Japan’s prime minister, have arrived in Madrid for a NATO summit set for June 28-30. The agendas for both gatherings have included a range of topics, but none more urgent than collective responses to Russia’s war in Ukraine. There will be more announcements this week on how best to impose heavy near- and longer-term costs on Russia by banning the import of Russian oil and possibly imposing a price cap on the small volumes of Russian oil Western countries still buy. But Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will continue to warn that Ukraine can’t afford a protracted war and that his military needs powerful weapons ASAP to beat back slow-but-steady Russian advances in the Donbas region. The US has promised to deliver an advanced air defense system. Russia has responded to these gatherings by renewing long-range artillery strikes on Kyiv and other cities, including a missile strike on Monday that hit a shopping mall with more than 1,000 civilians inside.

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Luisa Vieira

We live in an era of emergency. Since 2008, we’ve seen a global financial crisis, a sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and a wave of unrest that sparked political turmoil across North Africa and the Middle East. Civil wars in Syria and Libya helped trigger a migrant crisis that upended European politics. Then came Britain’s exit from the EU, the surprise election of a US president who upended the most basic assumptions about America’s role in the post-war world, and a political crisis in the wake of his defeat. Next came a global pandemic that has killed millions and continues to inflict human, economic, and political damage in every region of the world. Now we have Russia’s war on Ukraine, millions more refugees, and a global food emergency that has only just begun. All of that has happened in the past 14 years.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi upon his arrival in Cairo.

Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

MBS makes BFFs ahead of Biden visit

With barely a month until his controversial summit with President Joe Biden, the Saudi crown prince is on a regional tour this week to show that he’s hardly the “pariah” that America’s president once promised to make him. In Jordan, Mohammed bin Salman will look to patch up a monarchy-to-monarchy relationship that became strained last year over allegations of Saudi involvement in a plot to overthrow King Abdullah II. The Jordanians hope MBS’s visit leads to a resumption of lavish Saudi financial support. In Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed will be highlighting Riyadh’s tight relationship with the Arab world’s most populous country. Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi enjoys strong backing from the Saudis, who have gifted or invested billions of dollars in Egypt in recent years. But the most significant stop on MBS’s tour will be in Turkey, where always-dicey relations between the regional rivals nearly broke off entirely over the Saudi government’s 2018 murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. But with Turkey looking for financial help to right a listing economy, and MBS looking to shore up ties with a mercurial member of NATO, it seems that bygones are bygones.

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French President Emmanuel Macron at a polling booth during the first round of French parliamentary elections

Ludovic Marin via Reuters

Voters decide Macron’s future

On Sunday, France’s election season comes to a close with the final round of parliamentary elections. The big question: Can President Macron’s Ensemble! Party win a majority of the National Assembly’s 577 seats? If so, or if it gets close enough that a few willing partners from other parties can lend votes on individual pieces of legislation, then he’ll have a chance to advance his ambitious reform agenda. If not, his second-term plans will quickly stall. Macron’s best hope is that a few right-wing voters fearful of potential victory for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s leftist coalition will limit the number of seats it’s able to win, and that a few leftist voters who adamantly oppose far-right opposition leader Marine Le Pen will back Macron’s centrists for control of seats since there’s no left-wing candidate. Macron has long pledged to boost the government’s financial health by pushing the standard retirement age from 62 to 65. But without at least a near-majority, Macron and his prime minister will struggle even to pass basic reforms meant to cut government spending and help businesses weather tough economic times.
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Ari Winkleman

NATO defense ministers will wrap up important meetings in Brussels later today ahead of a crucial summit of the alliance’s heads of state in Madrid at the end of June. This is a crucial moment in the history of the world’s largest-ever and most successful security alliance. Russia’s war on Ukraine has given the organization a sense of unity and purpose it hasn’t had since the Cold War. NATO leaders will now try to use this boost to prepare for the complex challenges ahead.

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Jess Frampton

US Fed vs inflation — game on

This week, the US Federal Reserve is set to increase interest rates by as much as 75 basis points or more in a bid to tamp down soaring inflation. Last Friday's inflation report showed prices growing at an annual rate of 8.6%, the highest in over 40 years. That price growth reflects today’s higher fuel and food prices, brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine, lingering pandemic-related supply chain constraints, and Biden’s own pandemic stimulus spending. It will now fall largely to the Fed to rein things in. The effects of the Fed’s move this week will be watched closely by markets to be sure, but also by political strategists on both sides of the aisle. Just five months out from the US midterm elections, economic issues top US voters’ concerns, and recent polls say they trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to taming inflation.

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