Connect with us

International

Boris Johnson Wins Race To Become U.K. Prime Minister

Published

on

  • Former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was chosen by his Conservative Party to be the new Prime Minister of Britain.
  • He now has until Oct. 31 to pass a Brexit deal and has many hurdles to overcome.
  • Johnson has promised that the U.K. will leave the E.U. by that date, even if it means a no-deal Brexit.
  • Johnson is a polarizing public figure who has made a number of controversial remarks. The news of his election sparked a wide range of responses from Members of Parliament and world leaders.

Boris Johnson Elected as PM

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been elected to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister of Britain. 

The decision came nearly two months after May announced she was stepping down from her role amid stalled Brexit negotiations. When a prime minister resigns, their party is tasked with electing a new leader, rather than holding entirely new national elections.

In this case, the Conservative Party held the election, and overwhelming voted for Johson. 

According to local reports, Johnson received 92,153 votes – almost twice as many as his opponent, current Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who received 46,656 votes.

Johnson is set to meet with the Queen Wednesday, who will ask him to form a government with the other parties in Parliament. Once that is complete, he will officially be prime minister.

Though the Conservative Party’s working majority is small, Johnson is still expected to successfully form a government and take over as the leader.

Future of Brexit

The election, which Johnson was expected to win, was the easy part. Now, he has to take charge of Brexit.

After three years of failed negotiations that eventually lead to May’s resignation, Johnson now has just three months to get the deal through by Oct. 31. Johnson addressed the urgency during his acceptance speech.

“I think we know that we can do it, and the people in this country are trusting of us to do to it, and we know that we will do it,” Johnson said, before going on to recite his campaign motto. “Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.”  

“And that is what we’re going to do,” Johnson added. “We are going to energize the country, we’re going to get Brexit done on October 31, we’re going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can-do, and we’re once again going to believe in ourselves.” 

Johnson also pointed out that while the task is daunting, he believes he is up for it. It appears that the Conservative Party thinks he is the best person for the job too.

Johnson was one of the leading voices for the pro-Brexit campaign back in 2016 and essentially became its unofficial leader. However, there is still a world of obstacles he has to overcome.

Even though Parliament has a new prime minister, the same old divisions are still there.

Problems With Negotiations

When it comes to Brexit, there are huge divisions both in Parliament and among the Conservative Party itself.

Johnson not only has to unify his party, but he also has to unify a Parliament that voted down May’s Brexit plan three separate times this year.

Parliament is still divided over a Brexit deal. However, May’s original agreement is still the only one that E.U. leaders are offering.

Johnson has said he will renegotiate May’s deal. The E.U. has said that they will not. Additionally, some of Johnson’s plans to get more Members of Parliament on board have already been rejected by the E.U.

Specifically, Johnson has said he wants to get rid of a provision in the current version of the deal known as the Irish backstop.

Currently, Ireland and Northern Ireland have a seamless border where goods and services can flow with few restrictions.

When and if the U.K. leaves the E.U., Northern Ireland would come with while Ireland remains a member. That would make the trade between with Ireland subject to E.U. trade regulations and taxes that the U.K. is not currently subject to as an E.U. member.

The Irish backstop would essentially keep the seamless border, but it would require the U.K. to have a close relationship with the E.U., making the provision controversial with MP’s who do not want such a deep relationship with the E.U.

In fact, the backstops opposition was one of the main reasons May’s deal was voted down all three times. However, the backstop is one of the E.U.’s biggest sticking points, and E.U. leaders have insisted that a Brexit deal needs to have it.

Johnson has also promised that the U.K. will leave the E.U. on Oct. 31, even if there is not a deal, which is known as a no-deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit, however, is highly unpopular, even among some staunch Brexit supporters.

That is because it would be incredibly disruptive to both the U.K.’s economy and the global economy. 

Parliament has actually been relatively unified in their opposition to a no-deal Brexit, even voting on nonbinding motions against it.

Johnson as a Controversial Leader

In addition to the more technical aspects of the deal, there are also some questions around Johnson himself and his ability to bring together an already divisive Parliament.

While the Conservative Party seems to overwhelmingly believe that Johnson is their best chance, he is a highly polarizing political figure. Johnson is charismatic and blunt, but he also is known for his controversial views and statements. 

He is a populist who supports controlling immigration and more isolationist policies. He is often in the public eye, and his opponents have criticized him for making factually incorrect statements, especially concerning Brexit.

Johnson has also been criticized for making contentious remarks in the past. When he was appointed as Foreign Minister in 2016, a letter he wrote in 2002 circulated where he used racist slurs to describe people in Africa.

Last year, he wrote a column in The Telegraph where he said that while he did not support banning burqas, he did think they were “ridiculous” because they make women look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”

In 2005, he said that Islamaphobia is “natural,” and amid the London bombings, Johnson infamously said, “Islam is the problem.”

Johnson has also made comments about women that many have criticized as sexist. He has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage in the past and has used homophobic rhetoric. He compared homosexual sex to bestiality in his 2001 book Friends, Voters, Countrymen.

Response From MP’s & World Leaders

Members of Parliament and many world leaders had mixed responses to Johnson’s election.

Some expressed hesitant optimism about his leadership, like Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who wished Johnson well in a tweet, but also wondered, “Does he have the courage to deliver?”

The chief EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier said he looked forward to “working constructively” with Johnson.

President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations, adding, “He will be great!”

Speaking at a Turning Point USA event Tuesday morning, Trump complimented Johnson and compared the new prime minister to himself.

“We have a really good man who’s going to be the prime minister of the UK now, Boris Johnson. Good man. He’s tough and he’s smart,” Trump said. “They call him Britain Trump. And people are saying that’s a good thing, they like me over there. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they need.” 

Others, however, were less pleased. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister also congratulated Johnson in a tweet and said that she would do all she could to work collaboratively.

“However, it would be hypocritical not to be frank about the profound concerns I have at the prospect of his premiership,” she continued. “I am certain that the vast majority of people of Scotland would not have chosen to hand the keys of No 10 to someone with his views and track record.”

Other’s echoed that sentiment. Labour Party MP Andy McDonald also tweeted, “Boris Johnson is dangerous, reckless, incompetent & can’t be trusted.”

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn told BBC that his party is already planning a vote of no confidence to oust Johnson from office.

See what others are saying: (Vox) (The Guardian) (The New York Times)

International

Tunisian President Fires Prime Minister, Suspends Parliament Over Deadlock and COVID-19 Response

Published

on

President Kais Saied claims his actions are constitutional and have the support of the military, which has already blocked off government buildings. His opponents, however, call the move little more than a coup.


President Makes Massive Changes to Government

Tunisia’s government received a major shakeup after President Kais Saied fired the Prime Minister and froze parliament late Sunday.

The move, according to Saied, was meant to break years of parliamentary deadlock between Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and various political parties that have sturggled to find common ground. However, the timing comes just after a massive protest over how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic turned violent earlier on Sunday.

Either way, the move risks sparking a confrontation between Saied —who is backed by the army — and various political parties that view his actions as a coup.

The President’s actions have proven cotnroversial. Despite that, he has widepsread support after being elected in 2019 on a platform to fight corrupt politicians.

After the announcement, tens of thousands have taken to the streets in support of his decision to dismiss the Prime Minister and parliament, with many cheering as he appeared among the crowd Sunday night.

In recent months, anger at the ruling government has only increased as many feel the ruling coalition, largely made up of the Islamist Ennahda (“Renaissance”) party, have been ineffective.

It’s a common belief in Tunisia that Ennahda’s rule, alongside its tenuous coalition, helped exacerbate problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the economy shrinking by 8% as tourism plummeted.

One of the President’s supporters told Reuters and other outlets during Sunday’s demonstration, “We are here to protect Tunisia. We have seen all the tragedies under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood, which had a strong presence in Egpyt after the Arab Spring, becuase Ennahda has longstanding relationship with the group, although it has sought to distance itself as a more moderate political group over the last few years.

Now, for their part, the ruling coalition has argued that Saied’s move is clearly unconstitutional. Rached Ghannouchi, leade of Ennahda and Parliamentary Speaker, said that he is “against gathering all powers in the hands of one person.” His position isn’t without supporters eithers. Both sides have already gathered throughout the capital and have thrown rocks at each other.

Legalities of Article 80

The question across many minds is whether or not Saied’s actions are actually constitutional.

He claims that under Article 80 of the constitution, he can fire the Prime Minister, suspend parliament for 30 days, and appoint a premier to rule — all of which is true.

However, in order to do that, the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Speaker need to be consulted; something Parliamentary Speaker Ghannouchi said was never done. It’s unclear what Mechichi’s position is as he’s stayed inside his home all day, though the army says he is not under any kind of arrest.

In addition to those requirements, a Constitutional Court needs to approve the move, and one hasn’t been set up. As the German Foregin Office put it on Monday morning, it seems like Saied is relying on “a rather broad interpretation of the constitution.”

International observers hope a solution will soon be made to keep what seems to be the last functional democracy to come from the Arab Spring from devolving into civil war or dictatorship.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Reuters) (BBC)

Continue Reading

International

South Korean President Makes BTS Official Presidential Envoys

Published

on

The position is largely ceremonial but will be used by the government to help give a friendly and popular face to national and international initiatives spearheaded by Seoul.


Government Recognition

The K-pop band BTS will be adding to its list of global impacts this year after South Korean President Moon Jae-in appointed its members as Presidential Envoys on Wednesday.

The role will include attending international conferences such as the United Nations General Assembly in September.

At these events, BTS will perform “various activities to promote international cooperation in solving global challenges, such as improving the environment, eliminating poverty and inequality, and respecting diversity,” according to Park Kyung-mee, a Blue House spokesperson.

The band has already appeared at U.N. conferences multiple times over the last few years.

Just last year, the group gave a message of hope and reassurance through the U.N. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior appearances at the U.N. have been either as part of U.N. organizations or as private citizens.

Wednesday’s appointment will make them official representatives of South Korea, although they won’t actually engage in any direct diplomacy and instead will be used to promote the country’s ongoing efforts in youth-related projects.

Longstanding Policy

BTS’ success, alongside prior and current K-pop groups, has remained a masterclass of soft diplomacy by the Korean government. For decades, the Korean government has cultivated promoting cultural aspects abroad in the hopes of generating more interest in the country. There are hopes that such efforts will encourage more tourism as well as an elevated image when consumers consider Korean-made products.

Such efforts, beyond cultivating K-pop and raising its stars as semi-official government symbols, also include helping fund Korean restaurants abroad as well as free Korean-language classes taught by Professors of some of Korea’s most prestigious schools.

The news comes as BTS’ newest single, “Permission to Dance,” quickly took the #1 spot on the Billboard top 100. BTS is also partnering with YouTube to promote a Permission to Dance challenge on YouTube Shorts that will begin tomorrow and end on August 4.

Fans will be encouraged to replicate dance moves from the music video, and the group’s favorite clips will be put into a compilation made by them.

See what others are saying: (Yonhap News) (The Korea Times) (All Kpop)

Continue Reading

International

Over 1 Million Chinese Displaced After Record Rainfall

Published

on

The rain has created waist-high waters throughout the capital of China’s Henan province, drastically affecting the lives of its over 10 million inhabitants.


Trapped in a Flood

The Henan province of central China experienced severe rainfall over the last week that has left at least 25 dead and displaced more than 1.2 million people due to severe flooding, according to figures released by Chinese authorities Wednesday.

Meteorologists claim that the sudden, severe rainfall is caused by Typhoon In-Fa colliding with a high-pressure system over Henan province.

The floods have forced people to wade through waist-high water throughout Zhengzhou, the region’s capital. In one tragic incident Monday, 12 people died after they were trapped in the subway amid rising waters. A similar situation occurred Tuesday, causing multiple lines to be trapped in chest-high water for up to three hours before rescue workers managed to save them. Since then, metro authorities have shut down many of Zhengzhou’s rail lines.

Between Monday and Tuesday alone, Zhengzhou was hit with an estimated 25 inches of rain, equating to about 87% of its average annual rainfall. At one point, seven inches of rain occurred in less than an hour.

In an effort to alleviate rising waters, authorities breached a nearby dam to release floodwaters on Tuesday, although it’s unclear how much that helped as many dams and rivers in the region have overflowed for days.

Elsewhere in Henan, villages have been cut off by landslides and flooding, killing at least four others and leaving some areas without power for more than 24 hours.

Long Recovery Ahead

The region was finally able to begin recovery efforts Wednesday as conditions have begun to die down.

Despite reduced rainfall, the situation has still proven to be dire, leading President Xi Jinping to issue a statement through state media ordering authorities to give top priority to people’s safety and property.

In total, more than 17,000 firefighters have been mobilized for rescue efforts, as well as local volunteers and other rescue crews from other provinces.

Chinese companies have rushed to donate money to help the affected communities, and so far over $300 million has been donated.

It’s likely that for some time, hundreds of thousands in the region will be left without homes as authorities begin the work of ensuring that buildings are safe to return to.

See what others are saying: (South China Morning Post) (BBC) (The New York Times)

Continue Reading