Ed Balls, former Shadow Chancellor, was part of a session with members of The Leaders Council talking about the rise of populism across Europe. After the success of his show ‘Travels in Trumpland’ in 2018 that explore the rise of ‘Trumpism’ across the United States, Balls set off around mainland Europe to look at the rise of populist parties closer to home. This topic alongside Britain's changing place in the world were the main themes of the session.
Craig Wilmann, Director of The Leaders Council, moderated the session exploring topics like the fiasco of recent Italian elections and the rise of current Italian President, Mario Draghi. As well as how the Premier League can act as a soft power base for the UK and the potential economic impact of Scotland leaving the Union. Throughout the session Covid-19 was a continuous discussion point as it will inevitably change the face of politics across all European nations.
For those listening in to the talk there were two ‘yes or no’ questions asked both at the start and end of the session. The first question being, ‘Within the next five years, do you expect one of the big five countries in Western Europe- so Germany, France, Italy, Spain or the UK- to elect a far-left or far-right leader?’ , and the second, ‘within five years, do you expect any of the remaining 27 EU countries to vote to leave the EU?’’. The audience answered ‘YES’ to both questions. While the audience didn’t change their mind on the second question after listening to Balls speak on the topic. The first question saw an increase of 12% believing that one of the big five countries would vote in a far right leader.
Ed Balls, alongside exploring populism through his highly popular TV appearances, has used his position as professor of political economy at Kings College to co-author a recent article looking at ‘Global Britain’. The paper looks at five key areas which the authors believe will be vital for the future of Britain: trade, regulation, migration, ‘levelling up’ and the UK's global narrative.
Balls said ‘ “If Britain is going to be effective on the world stage and if ‘Global Britain’ is to be a reality, the focus has to be on bringing people together, on listening, and learning. Simply going our own way and thinking we know best won’t work.
“As the UK takes its first steps into the post-Brexit world, the government will be faced with a series of choices in key areas of policy that will shape how we are seen on the world stage and whether we remain an influential voice around the top table.’
To listen to the Q&A session please watch the video below: