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?

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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For Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee, protesting at the Games is fine — as long as it doesn't "interfere" with the competition itself or awards ceremonies. The Olympics, in his view, are an oasis of calm in the middle of an increasingly tense world, and "we shouldn't be spoiling that by pointing out the obvious , which is that there are social and political problems." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World on US public television.

India's rape problem: Hundreds of protesters have flocked to the streets of New Delhi for four days straight after a 9-year old girl was raped and murdered in a small village outside the capital while going to fetch water for her family. Some demonstrators burned effigies of India's PM Narendra Modi, saying that the government has not done enough — or anything, really — to address the country's abysmal rape problem: there were more than 32,000 rapes recorded in 2019, certainly a vast undercount given the stigma associated with reporting sexual assaults in India. The scourge of sexual violence against women and girls in India was brought to light in 2012 when a 23-year-old woman was gang raped and murdered while traveling on a bus in the nation's capital, prompting international outrage. Four men have been arrested in connection with this week's attack, though they have not been charged. The city of New Delhi, meanwhile, has ordered an inquiry to probe events surrounding the young girl's death, though Indians who have been sounding the alarm on violence against women for decades aren't expecting much to come of it.

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It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

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20,200: As the super contagious delta variant continues to spread, Thailand is now a COVID hotspot, recording more than 20,200 new COVID cases Wednesday, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Authorities imposed new restrictions in Bangkok and other provinces as the vaccine rollout remains sluggish; just 5.8 percent of Thailand's 66 million people are fully vaccinated.

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University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland says drinking makes us feel good and has historically encouraged socializing. But there are negative implications, as well. We now have the problem of "distillation and isolation": getting as much booze as you want and drinking alone, especially during the pandemic. There's a gender issue too: the "bro culture" associated with alcohol can exclude and even be dangerous for women. Not all regions have the same problems, though, as drinking habits vary widely. Watch Slingerland's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

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