Rishi Sunak accepts responsibility for historic Tory defeat

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Friday, 5th July 2024.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he accepts responsibility for the Conservative Party’s historic general election defeat, according to the BBC. The Mail on-line says Sunak is expected to announce he is quitting as leader of the Conservative Party in the morning, although he would stay on until a replacement is chosen.

Sir Keir Starmer has led the Labour Party to a landslide victory and will take over from Mr Sunak as the UK’s prime minister.

Sunak told supporters: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Speaking in central London, Sir Keir said “change begins now”, adding “it feels good, I have to be honest”.

With more than 500 out of 650 seats declared, Labour is projected to form the next government, with a majority of 166.

The Tories are set for the worst result in their history, with just 136 MPs.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has won a seat in Parliament at his eighth attempt, in Clacton, promising “this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you”.

Reform has four MPs so far – including chairman Richard Tice and former Tory Lee Anderson – and is finishing second in many parts of the country, taking large amounts of votes from the Conservatives.

The Scottish National Party is now forecast to be reduced to just eight MPs, as Labour regains dominance in Scotland.

A host of Tory big guns fell victim to the purge. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and former minister Sir Jacob-Rees Mogg are among the senior Tories to lose their seats.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defeated his old party to retain his Islington North seat as an independent.
But another high profile former Labour MP, George Galloway, failed to retain the Rochdale seat he won at a bye-election in February, losing to Labour’s Paul Waugh.

The Liberal Democrats are benefitting from a collapse in Tory support and are predicted to get 66 MPs – the best result in their history.

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, has beaten Labour in Bristol Central and her party is predicted to gain another seat to double their current number of MPs.

Sir Keir Starmer’s predicted landslide would be short of the 179 majority won by Tony Blair in 1997.

But it will mean a Labour prime minister in Downing Street for the first time since 2010 and a battle for the future direction of the Conservatives if, as seems likely, Rishi Sunak stands down as leader.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves – who looks set to be the first female Chancellor in a few hours’ time – said: “We will not let you down and I can’t wait to get started.”

Penny Mordaunt, who lost to Labour by just 780 votes, had been tipped to make another attempt to be Tory leader after the election. Conceding defeat, she said her party had lost because it “had failed to honour the trust people had placed in it.”

Former Attorney General Sir Robert Buckland, the first Tory MP to lose his seat as results began rolling in, told the BBC his party was facing “electoral Armageddon” and Labour’s likely victory was a “big vote for change”.

And he angrily lashed out at colleagues, such as former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, for what he called “spectacularly unprofessional and ill-disciplined” behaviour during the campaign. “I’m fed up of personal agendas and jockeying for position,” he added, warning that the upcoming Tory leadership contest was “going to be like a group of bald men arguing over a comb”.

The SNP are “not winning that argument” on Scottish independence, First Minister John Swinney said. “Opinion polls still show that about half the population in Scotland want our country to be independent,” he told the BBC.

“That’s not manifested itself in the election result tonight and that’s something we’ve got to look at very carefully as a party and to think about how we can remedy that situation.”

Orbán’s surprise visit to Moscow sparks dismay in Brussels

Only days into it taking over the rotating presidency of the European Council and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán has drawn the ire of Brussels for his unscheduled visit to Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

It follows a surprise meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Monday where the two were said to have had a relatively cordial meeting – considering Orban’s flat refusal to provide political or military support for war-torn Ukraine.

As soon as reports of the Moscow trip emerged, the president of the European Council Charles Michel hit out at Orbán reminding him he has “no mandate” to negotiate on the behalf on the EU during his tenure.

Polish president Donald Tusk tweeted: “The rumours about your visit to Moscow cannot be true PM Orbán, or can they?”

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo described the news of the visit as “disturbing” saying Orbán’s visit shows “disregard” for the duties of the presidency and “undermines” the interests of the European Union.

The trip has also overshadowed Hungary’s attempts to publicise the government’s priorities over the next six months, including a more hardline implementation of migration policies, development of the European defence strategy and supporting a smooth transition to a new College of Commissioners following the European Parliament elections.

Meanwhile Hungarian officials have told Euronews the government’s policy in Ukraine is that ‘both parties’ need to negotiate an end to the conflict, and that there was ‘no military solution’.

However, one official conceded that “against our best intentions towards the war, it will last a while. We condemn the aggression; we feel very strongly for Ukraine”, they said, “but the two sides need to resolve the matter.”

Officials also doubled down on Hungary’s refusal to provide any lethal military equipment to Kyiv despite the heavy civilian casualties and brutal Russian occupation.

“We do not deliver lethal equipment; our job [in government] is to provide the security of Hungary and no other country.”

“Our role in this is to protect the sovereignty of our own country; this is what we’re responsible for”, they said.

Biden tells Netanyahu: ‘Time to close hostage deal’

US President Joe Biden has welcomed the mobilisation of an Israeli team, led by the head of the Mossad, to negotiate the truce in Gaza. The White House reports that in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president defined the decision as positive to “send his negotiators for talks with mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt in an attempt to conclude the agreement”.

“It’s time to close the deal” on the hostages, Joe Biden said in his phone call with Netanyahu, according to a senior Biden administration official who reported in a virtual briefing.

Iran’s Presidential election heads to second round

Iran is bracing for a pivotal moment in its political landscape as the country’s snap presidential election heads into a second round today, following an initial vote that failed to produce a decisive winner amidst unprecedented voter apathy, CNN reports.

The election was triggered by the tragic death of former President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19, which also claimed the lives of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials. With a sense of urgency, three conservative candidates and a single reformist contender entered the race for Iran’s highest elected office.

However, the electoral field was significantly narrowed by the powerful Guardian Council, which barred numerous candidates from standing, quoting various reasons that ranged from insufficient allegiance to the Islamic Republic’s ideals to a lack of qualifications, according to CNN.

The first round of voting, held on June 28, saw none of the initial candidates securing the required majority of over 50 per cent of the vote. Instead, the race boiled down to two prominent figures: reformist lawmaker Masoud Pezeshkian and ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Pezeshkian emerged with a slight lead of 3.9 percentage points over Jalili, garnering 42.5 per cent of the votes compared to Jalili’s 38.6 per cent, according to the state news agency IRNA.

While the second round of voting is poised to be a showdown between Pezeshkian and Jalili, the implications of the election extend beyond domestic policy: Iran faces a myriad of challenges both at home and abroad, including a staggering economy, a restless youth demographic, and escalating tensions with regional adversaries such as Israel and the United States.

Experts predict Mediterranean tsunami in the next 30 years

UNESCO’s Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is warning with 100 per cent certainty that a tsunami measuring over one metre will hit the Mediterranean in the next 30 years.

Spanish newspaper La Razon reports that the danger zone is the Averroes fault beneath the Alboran Sea – roughly halfway between the Málaga coast and north Africa.

An earthquake here could cause six-metre waves, which would reach Spain in as little as 21 minutes. In a best-case scenario, coastal residents would still only have 35 minutes to flee inland.

There have been around 100 tsunamis in the Med and surrounding seas since the beginning of the 20th century – that’s about 10 per cent of the world’s total tsunamis for the period.

Tsunamis in the northeast Atlantic are less common, though an 8.5 magnitude earthquake in 1755 triggered a tsunami that destroyed most of Lisbon in Portugal, Cádiz in Spain, parts of Morocco, and reached southwest Cornwall in the UK and Ireland.

And while a one- or even six-metre tsunami might not be on the scale of the Indian Ocean event of 2004, which killed more than 230,000 people and displaced 1.7 million more, or the Japanese tsunami of 2011, which caused approximately €225 billion damage, it would still be an emergency.

“We don’t expect waves of 20 metres, like in Japan, Chile or Sumatra, but more like one to two metres,” Hélène Hébert, national coordinator of France’s CENtre d’ALerte Tsunami (CENALT), told Euronews earlier this year.

“What is extremely hazardous is not only the altitude of the tsunamis but the flows and fluxes of the water – and the flooding, which can cause damage to beaches, harbours and streets. If it’s a small harbour and the waterfront is very low, a tsunami could be more treacherous.”

What plans are in place for European natural disasters such as tsunamis? France already has a red-alert plan in place for the first 15 minutes after a tsunami, with its CENALT set up in 2012.

In 2022, UNESCO undertook a mission to the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily, to investigate the risk from its underwater volcanoes. These could cause catastrophic tsunamis, says volcanologist Francesco Italiano of the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia.

In Spain, the State Plan for Civil Protection against the Risk of Tsunamis has an early-warning system to identify underwater earthquakes and a plan for authorities to coordinate responses to keep the public safe.

Hurricane Beryl hits Jamaica, roars towards Mexico

After leaving a trail of destruction across the eastern Caribbean and at least nine people dead, Hurricane Beryl weakened as it chugged over open water toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, going from the earliest Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic to Category 2 by the evening.

The Associated Press quotes Jack Beven, senior hurricane specialist at the US Hurricane Centre, saying “the biggest immediate threat now that the storm is moving away from the Cayman Islands is landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula”.
The storm’s centre was about 295 kilometers east-southeast of Tulum, Mexico, on Thursday afternoon. It had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 20 mph (about 31 kph).

Beryl was expected to bring heavy rain and winds to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, before crossing the Yucatan peninsula and re-strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico to make a second strike on northeast Mexico.

Over the past days, Beryl has damaged or destroyed 95 per cent of homes on a pair of islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines, jumbled fishing boats in Barbados and ripped off roofs in Jamaica before rumbling past the Cayman Islands early Thursday.

Separately, the US National Hurricane Centre said on Thursday that Tropical Storm Aletta had formed in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s coast. Aletta, which was located about 310 kilometers from Manzanillo and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), was forecast to head away from land and dissipate by the weekend.

‘Brazil indicts Bolsonaro over undeclared diamonds’

Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro has reportedly been indicted for embezzlement over diamond jewellery that he received from Saudi Arabia.

During his time in office, the Saudi government gave Bolsonaro and his wife €2.96 million worth of jewellery including a diamond necklace, a ring, a watch and earrings.

Security sources told the Associated Press and Reuters that Brazil’s federal police had indicted Bolsonaro on Thursday, but the Supreme Court has yet to receive the police report in order to move ahead.


UEFA EURO2024 Quarter-Finals: Spain v Germany (6pm), Portugal v. France (9pm); Playing on Saturday: England v Switzerland and the Netherlands v Turkey.

Copa America Quarter-Final: Argentina v Ecuador 1-1 (Argentina qualify on penalties 4-2). Playing at 3 am on Saturday: Venezuela v Canada and on Sunday: Colombia v Panama and Uruguay v Brazil.

Photo: Temilade Adelaja/PA Wire

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