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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?

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?

It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.

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Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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