24. Weekly Newsletter
Former PM Johnson Resigns
On Friday (9th June) former PM Boris Johnson announced that he is standing down, with immediate effect, as an MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (in West London). In his resignation statement he stated that he remained “hugely proud of all that we achieved in my time in office as prime minister: getting Brexit done, winning the biggest majority for 40 years and delivering the fastest vaccine roll out of any major European country, as well as leading global support for Ukraine”.
The resignation of former PM Johnson coincided with the resignations of two close ally MPs. This will lead to three by-elections in England to re-elect new MPs. Two of the seats are considered traditional safe-seats for the governing Conservative Party but the former PM’s seat holds a smaller 15% vote lead over the opposition Labour Party.
Newspapers & Scottish National Party
The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days covered a wide range of topics with no single issue dominating headlines. The resignation of former PM Johnson has gained widespread coverage in recent days with the opposition Labour Party again calling for an immediate general election. Elsewhere, the arrest of the former First Minister of Scotland (Sturgeon) has attracted front pages. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:
- The Times: Sturgeon questioned for 7 hours after arrest
- The Sunday Telegraph: Johnson orchestrates attack on PM over ‘swindle’
- The Independent: Tories in turmoil as bitter Boris allies force 3rd by-election
- The Sunday Times: Allies abandon Johnson as Tory mutiny falls flat
- The Daily Telegraph: Johnson quits as MP over partygate
- FT Weekend: Brokers ditch scandal-hit Odey firm
- The Times: Mortgage deals pulled in rush to raise rates
- The Guardian: PM signs pact with Biden as hope of trade deal vanishes
- The Times: Unions lambast Labour over ‘naïve’ energy plan
- Financial Times: Saudi Arabia seeks to boost oil price with output cut of 1m barrels a day
The former Scottish first minister, Sturgeon, was arrested on Sunday (11th June) following Police Scotland investigating the whereabouts of £660,000 of donations to the Scottish National Party (SNP). Sturgeon faced seven hours of questioning and was released on the same day whilst stating that “I know beyond doubt that I am in fact innocent of any wrongdoing”. Sturgeon’s husband (the ex-SNP chief executive) was arrested and subsequently released in April as part of the ongoing investigation into the finances of the SNP.
UK AI Regulation
PM Sunak on Monday (12th June) outlined his plan to make the UK the global home of AI regulation due to London’s status as a tech hub. The PM discussed these plans at the annual London Tech Week as he aims to put the tech sector at the heart of his priority to grow the economy. Since March, the UK has chosen to divide AI regulatory responsibilities between government bodies covering human rights, health and safety, and competition- rather than through a single-body oversight board. This would aim to carve a centre-ground between strict EU regulations and the less restrictive US approach.
Last week the PM gained US President Biden’s support for Britain to host the AI summit which will investigate the risks of tech and how the international community can mitigate these. PM Sunak has confirmed that the government is working to implement “guardrails” to protect the public. Palantir, an AI industry leader, recently revealed their plan to open their new European HQ for AI development in the UK.