What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

Deal or no deal? If you thought British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decisive victory in last week's UK election had resolved the anguish over if/when/how UK would leave the EU, think again. The UK will formally exit the EU in a matter of weeks, yes, but London still needs to negotiate a comprehensive EU trade deal during a transition period that lasts until the end of 2020. It would be a miracle if a pact could be negotiated in that time, but Johnson's government said yesterday it would not extend the deadline for such a deal. That means it's possible UK could leave the EU without any trade pact at all: a new variant of the dreaded "no-deal" scenario. The move, which raises pressure on the EU to offer the UK a good bargain on their future relationship, means we could be in for another 12 months of Brexit brinkmanship. And you thought it was over…muahahahaha!


A rupture at the UN over North Korea? It looks like somebody's been paying attention to Kim Jong-Un's recent antics. On Tuesday, Moscow and Beijing introduced a UN Security Council resolution that would loosen some economic sanctions on North Korea as a way to draw Pyongyang into fresh talks about its nuclear program. But the US – which, like Russia, China, France, and the UK, holds veto power at the Security Council -- has already killed the idea. We're watching to see how Kim responds.

A death sentence in Pakistan: Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 and controversially supported former US President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror", has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Pakistani court after being convicted of high treason. Musharraf imposed martial law in 2007 but was forced from office a year later. Since 2016 has lived in exile in Dubai, where he is fighting the treason charges from a hospital bed. Back home in Pakistan, the military – which has seized power countless times since independence in 1947 -- was not thrilled with the verdict.

What We're Ignoring

A washed up Estonian singer's jibes at a Finnish "sales girl": Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Helme, a member of the country's rightwing Ekre party, landed in hot water this week after he disparaged Finland's new 34-year-old prime minister Sanna Marin, who worked as a cashier before she entered politics, as a "sales girl." That's big talk coming from a guy who used to front a mediocre 80s Estonian country/rock band. We're ignoring this story, because unlike Mr Helme, we know that retail is hard work -- especially around the holidays.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

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?

UNGA Livestream