Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Tories’ race for leadership of a disintegrating Britain sparks excitement and glee around the world

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In India and Nigeria, the background of the candidates has attracted attention, while in Europe pessimism is palpable

After watching the ouster of Boris Johnson with rapt attention, the world’s media have covered the struggle to find a replacement with a mixture of local enthusiasm and exhausted pessimism.

Columnists from Spain to Sydney reflected on the difficult headwinds the next prime minister will face, with rising inflation, the questionable benefits of Brexit and the party’s succession battle focused on issues of little concern abroad are interested.

But media outlets in countries where candidates have family ties have found the local angle for their readers, compiled brief genealogies and, in some cases, speculated how their success might benefit their ancestral lands.

The Times of India has given its readers daily coverage of the competition, with a focus on the “Indian origin” candidates. Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman, a July 10 headline implied, were subjected to a “racist attack” after declaring their candidacy.

For Mr Sunak, whose wife Akshata is a descendant of the Indian billionaire Murthy family, the outpouring of criticism the wealthy former chancellor has faced was tinged with “racist undertones”, while the article also cited an article in the UK edition of Spiked , in which “scornfully” was denounced. on Ms. Braverman, whose father is said to have family connections to Goa via Nairobi.

A number of Nigerian news sources, from tabloid to broadsheet and even the BBC’s Pidgin vertical, noted Kemi Badenoch’s candidacy along with her Nigerian ancestry and the time she spent growing up there.

Commentators celebrated Ms Badenoch’s success but were largely skeptical that even a win would have any benefits for the West African powerhouse, with Nigeria’s elections looming and tensions in the country.

Middle East Eye, meanwhile, noted that Nadhim Zahawi’s election to the ranks of Chancellor during last week’s wave of resignations “represents the highest position ever achieved by a Middle Eastern-born politician in the UK government”.

However, the article also brought up Zahawi’s background as a Kurdish refugee from Saddam Hussein’s regime by questioning his support for the government’s Rwanda policy, which could result in Iraqi Kurds being sent to the African nation for treatment.

“When he was grilled over whether his own family could have coped with being sent to Rwanda if they had come to the UK in 2022 instead of 1976,” reads the article, “he said his family had entered the country “legally” and claimed that Iraqi Kurdish refugees were victims of criminal “gangs”.

Elsewhere, the diverse field received positive feedback. An editorial in Pakistan’s Dawn looked positive on the field, which then featured both Mr Sunak and Sajid Javid, who has Pakistani roots but retired yesterday. “Contrast this apparent reflection of diversity within the Conservative Party to Tory MP Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, in which he railed against mass immigration and said the day was near when non-white people would “dominate”. Britain,” it said.

And the New York Times reported that the list was the “result of the party’s efforts in recent years to propose more diverse candidates for Parliament and to help build a broader leadership roster.”

But for other observers, the battle, memorably dubbed a “circular firing squad” by a former Thatcher aide, offers little hope for a country recovering from a prime minister’s tenure amid a cost-of-living crisis that many have viewed as subpar.

In an opinion piece for Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, headlined “Britain is falling apart and could end the Tories,” columnist Zoe Strimpel explained that the UK was gripped by a sense of “deadness, randomness, decay gone and a new mediocrity”. becomes. concluded that the country is on the verge of being “brought to its knees by the unions” and relegated to “second world status”.

In Ireland, all eyes were on the Northern Ireland Protocol, with the Irish Times noting an “almost unanimous vote” to remove it from the candidates. However, it noted that Tom Tugendhat “maintains good relations with politicians in Dublin and Belfast” – citing his Irish ancestry in the form of Limerick-born great-grandparents.

On the continent, newspapers that were reliably skeptical of Mr Johnson remained pessimistic. Spain’s El Pais felt it was time to sow “the seeds of a reversal” of Brexit as neither candidate has shown a better way forward. In France’s Le Monde, the field is “crowded, paved with unrealistic promises and tilted sharply to the right”.

And perhaps inevitably in Germany, a columnist was hoping for a new sobriety that would make ongoing bureaucratic negotiations smoother. “Sometimes boring politicians aren’t so bad,” the article says.

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