The Great Brexit Purge Rips Apart U.K. Tories

(Bloomberg) — Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.

Boris Johnson has only been prime minister for six weeks. He might not last another six.

In the latest dramatic climax in the U.K.’s three-year Brexit saga, Johnson humiliatingly lost his very first vote in parliament, leaving his party in tatters and his strategy in chaos.

More than 20 of Johnson’s Conservatives defied his orders last night and backed a plan to stop him forcing the U.K. out of the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31. Johnson retaliated in spectacular style. First he warned that unless the rebels back down in another crucial vote today, he will push forward with his own attempt to trigger a general election. Then he fired them all.

Among the casualties of Johnson’s purge were some of the biggest names in British politics. Former chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond was ejected from the Tory party. So too was 79-year-old former chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who first served in the cabinet under Margaret Thatcher.

With an early election apparently inevitable, the risk for Johnson is that radically ripping up the Tory party and pushing for a hard Brexit could backfire. With the economy on course for its first recession since the financial crisis, voters may start to see Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn as the safer choice.

Global Headlines

Lam’s gesture | Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, formally withdrew legislation that would’ve allowed extraditions to China, local media reported, after a weekend of anti-government protests that saw fierce clashes with riot police. While Hong Kong stocks rallied, it’s unclear if killing the bill will placate a movement that has morphed into calls for direct leadership elections.

Click here for more on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for the ruling Communist Party to brace for a “long-term” struggle against a variety of threats.

State of emergency | Hurricane Dorian is focusing its armory of flooding and high winds on the U.S. East Coast after laying waste to the Bahamas in a two-day battering. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in North Carolina as the Category 2 hurricane tracked north-northwest on a path forecast to take it parallel to the coast over the rest of the week.

There’s a growing consensus among Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination on seven ways to fight climate change.

Hurdle cleared | Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte is set to form Italy’s next government after supporters of the anti-establishment Five Star backed him in an online vote. Five Star will join forces with the center-left Democratic Party, an outfit it had long criticized as corrupt and out of touch. Conte will present a list of ministers and a government program today to President Sergio Mattarella.

Officials told John Follain today that Roberto Gualtieri, a European lawmaker from the Democratic Party, is the leading candidate to become finance minister.

No Lone Ranger | Trump’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, wants to cut a low-key profile and leave the combative tone to other administration officials. As David Wainer reports, the wealthy Trump campaign contributor plans to focus on a narrower range of issues than her predecessor such as building alliances to muster resources for global humanitarian crises.

Family matter | Those who criticize Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to make his son ambassador to the U.S. are “envious of the access” he would have in Washington, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo says. He told Samy Adghirni in an interview that Trump knows very few ambassadors by their first name — so the fact the U.S. president met over the weekend with Eduardo Bolsonaro is proof of the special treatment he’d receive.

What to Watch

Politicians and business leaders are due to gather in Cape Town today for a World Economic Forum meeting overshadowed by xenophobic violence that’s soured South Africa’s relations with its regional counterparts. Japanese Foreign Minister Kono Taro in an editorial today for Bloomberg urged South Korea to take “concrete actions as a responsible member of the international community” as a resurgent dispute over colonial-era grievances hits trade between the two U.S. allies.

And finally … Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador insists he isn’t paranoid after he showed reporters a mini camera he says was used to spy on him. Cleaning staff found the device by accident in a dining area used for meetings with governors and business leaders. The president says he has nothing to hide and put the incident down to the fact that “some have kept their bad habits and practices of spying,” he said.

 

To contact the author of this story: Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.net, Rosalind Mathieson

bloomberg.com” data-reactid=”63″>For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.