The Speaker
Wednesday, 24 July 2024 – 22:12

A Week In Preview: Tory leadership race and tensions in the Middle East

In the week ahead we can expect to see top Tories initiate their fight for leadership, the full results from the EU elections and strengthening tensions in the Middle East.


EU Elections

The results of the European Parliament elections will be released this week, in a crucial test for politicians like President Macron of France and Deputy Prime Minister Salvini of Italy.

Voting has been taking place since Thursday, with most countries going to the polls on Sunday. The EU parliament is expected to publish its initial projection after 1915 and it seems the turnout has significantly increased.

In France, turnout was at 43 per cent at 1700, compared with 35 per cent in 2014. Unlike purely national elections, countries do not release their results until everyone has voted which is to prevent an election in one country from influencing another.

Many commentators have expected a resurgence of the Eurosceptic bloc and pro-EU reformers, at the cost of traditional parties. The newly formed parliament will play a pivotal role in approving the nomination for the new president of the European Commission and influencing the election of a new president of the European Council.

And with the European Central Bank’s president stepping down, the election results will also impact who holds the top economic job in the EU, according to the Financial Times.

In the UK, Labour and the Conservatives are expected to suffer severe losses, with the Brexit party leading and a resurgence in the Liberal Democrats.

Member states are expected to begin releasing results from 2200. North East England is expected to be one of the first to declare after their 2014 results were disclosed at 2215.


Conservative campaigning

With the prime minister announcing her intention to resign as party leader on June 7, the campaign to replace her will get fully underway.

As many as 15 candidates are expected to announce their candidacy and those already running include former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, international development secretary Rory Stewart, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, and health secretary Matt Hancock.

Assuming a deal is not passed by parliament, the decision to leave without a deal on October 31 or to ask for an extension is shaping up to be a key dividing line, and is especially important given the Euroscepticism of the Conservative party membership.

However, we must watch out for the formation of any alliances as Amber Rudd has not ruled out joining Mr Johnson’s cabinet, but is reportedly waiting for him to go back on his promise to leave without a deal.

Conservative MPs will vote on the candidates until there are two left, at which point, the election will be opened up to all members of the Conservative party. Whoever wins the election will become prime minister.


Fall out of Austria’s Ibiza scandal

A vote of no-confidence is expected in Chancellor Kurz on Monday following the breakup of his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. However, Mr Kurz’s hand has been strengthened as polls predict his party to win in the EU elections, as reported by Reuters. The Freedom Party and the Social Democrats have not yet said how they will vote.


Worsening tensions in the Middle East

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s state news reported that the country intercepted a drone armed with explosives that were headed for an airport in the south of the country. Reuters reported the drone is believed to have been launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Tensions have been deteriorating in the region over the past two weeks as Iran-backed Houthi rebels successfully targeted two oil pumping stations. Four oil tankers were targeted in UAE waters.

On Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister said the country would defend itself against any aggression, following President Trump’s decision to commit 1,500 troops to the region. President Trump has also bypassed Congress to approve an $8bn arms deal with Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia.

Tensions are not expected to subside.


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