Boris Johnson agrees to resign as prime minister
Boris Johnson, Britain’s beleaguered leader, said that he would step down as prime minister after a dizzying 48 hours that included a wholesale rebellion of his cabinet, a wave of government resignations and a devastating loss of party support prompted by his handling of the latest scandal to engulf his leadership.
Johnson said he will stay on in his post until the Conservative Party chooses a new leader, which could take several months but will likely happen before the party conference in the fall. He said he expected the timetable for his departure and the selection of a successor to be decided on Monday by a committee of senior Conservative lawmakers.
His resignation brings an abrupt end to a tumultuous tenure that was distinguished by a landslide victory three years ago and a successful drive to pull Britain out of the E.U., but that collapsed under the weight of a relentless series of scandals. He initially resisted calls to step down, he said, because he felt it was his duty to remain in the role.
Quotable: “I want to tell you how sorry I am to be giving up the best job in the world,” Johnson said. “But them’s the breaks.”
Analysis: The risk-taking bravado of Britain’s colorful prime minister was not enough to compensate for his shortcomings or overcome a catastrophic loss of party support, writes Mark Landler, our London bureau chief.
Who’s next: The choice of Britain’s next prime minister falls to the Conservative Party, whose lawmakers pushed Johnson to resign and now must reinvent their party without him.
European sanctions against Russia put to the test
Tough E.U. sanctions on Russia have created a new challenge for European governments and their authorities: actually enforcing them. Estimated to be worth 40 billion euros, or about $40.7 billion, Europe’s measures prohibit everything from high-tech goods to vodka from entering or exiting Russia, and they include a sweeping ban on Russian oil imports.
Practically speaking, sanctions policing happens at the sprawling terminals of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and at smaller ports around the continent. It is a vastly complex, labor-intensive task that, officials admit, is far from perfect. The oil embargo will present still more difficulties: Oil can be reshipped, blended, refined or relabeled to conceal its Russian origin.
For the people working at Rotterdam, every E.U. sanctions package has meant that more and more of the burden of fulfilling a united European stand against Russia falls on them. According to the port’s own data, 58 million tons of goods were imported from Russia in 2020 and four million exported, with a collective value of approximately €34 billion.
Quotable: “If we had 100 percent sanctions and no trade flow was allowed, that would be the easiest,” the port’s chief executive, Allard Castelein, said.
In other news:
Facebook data policies in the spotlight
A draft decision by Irish regulators yesterday threatened to block Facebook and Instagram from moving data about E.U. users to the U.S. It is the latest round in a yearslong dispute as governments around the world increasingly set rules and standards governing how data can move around the globe.
The decision increases pressure on negotiators to complete a deal to allow businesses to keep moving data across the Atlantic, without which the operations of thousands of businesses are thrown into question. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has said it may have to shut down the services in Europe if it cannot easily transport data. A blackout is considered unlikely.
Data protection regulators in other E.U. countries have a month to voice objections to Ireland’s order. Meta can also appeal the judgment in court. The draft order submitted on Thursday applies only to Facebook and to Instagram, and not to other Meta services like WhatsApp.
Background: Meta has been at the center of the debate because it was a subject of a lawsuit that led to a 2020 decision by the European Court of Justice that voided an important data-sharing pact between the E.U. and the U.S. The court said the agreement, known as Privacy Shield, was illegal because of a lack of privacy protections from American spying.
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Around the World
A deadly glacier collapse in Italy this week provided the latest evidence that almost no part of the continent can escape the effects of Europe’s new, intense and often unlivable summer heat.
If temperatures keep increasing, “we won’t have glaciers anymore” on the Alps, one climate change expert said. The change could bring enormous and unpredictable consequences on the shape of the continent, vegetation, animal life and the water cycle.
Recognizing Siberia at a glimpse
The premise of the online game GeoGuessr is simple: You’re dropped somewhere in the world, seen through Google Street View, and you must guess where you are. Often, that means clicking to move through the landscape and scanning for clues.
Trevor Rainbolt, 23, has found online fame posting videos in which he pinpoints a location in seconds, Kellen Browning, a reporter for The Times, writes. His geography skills verge on wizardry — he can identify a country by the color of its soil — and his best performances regularly get millions of views on TikTok.
“Candidly, I haven’t had any social life for the past year,” Rainbolt said. “But it’s worth it, because it’s so fun and I enjoy learning.”