UK election landslide: So is Brexit decided now?

UK election landslide: So is Brexit decided now?

In the end it wasn't even close. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a stunning victory in the UK's snap elections yesterday, taking at least 364 seats out of 650, delivering the Tories their largest majority since 1987.

Johnson read the public mood correctly. After three years of anguish and political uncertainty over the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union, he ran on a simple platform: "Get Brexit Done." In a typically raffish late-campaign move, he even drove a bulldozer through a fake wall of "deadlock." Despite lingering questions about his honesty and his character, Johnson's party gained at least 49 seats (one seat still hasn't been declared yet).


His main rival, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, promised a second Brexit referendum but focused mainly on a socialist program to improve healthcare and reduce income inequality. Dogged by a sloppy campaign and charges of anti-Semitism, he won Labour just 202 seats, losing 60. He has already said he'll step down as party chief. The decisively anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats took just 11 seats. Their leader, Jo Swinson, is out too.

With turnout of more than 67 percent, the landslide gives Johnson a clear mandate to pull the UK out of the EU on his terms. He will be the most powerful British Prime Minister in years.

There are now two big things we do know and two that we still don't.

Who will run the next British government? The Conservative Party, alone. For the past 30 months, they've had to rely on support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to govern. The DUP's views on the famously complex Irish border issue have limited the Conservatives' room for maneuver on Brexit. Not anymore.

Is Brexit is going to happen? Yes. Johnson will easily win parliamentary approval for the Brexit deal that he negotiated with Brussels earlier this fall. Once that's done, the UK will leave the European Union by 31 January 2020, the (thrice-extended) deadline to do so.

But what sort of Brexit will it be? Too soon to say. The deal Johnson struck with the EU in October covers important things like the so-called "divorce bill" (the tab that London will pay to Brussels to cover existing and future obligations) and the Irish border. But there's still no UK-EU agreement on key issues like trade ties, military and security relations, and digital privacy rules.

Those are supposed to be set by the end of 2020, but there isn't even a laughing chance that this deadline will be met. Just crafting a trade deal covering annual commerce worth more than half a trillion dollars could take years. Both sides will almost certainly agree to an extension by next summer.

What's the lasting impact of Brexit on British politics? Another unknown. For the past three years, Brexit was the single most important issue in the UK, wrenching open deep divides within the major political parties and scrambling voters' political loyalties. But once Brexit is done – even if unhappily – what will come next?

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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