The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, October 24, 2022

It’s Monday, October 24th, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Britain’s Shortest Term of a Prime Minister Leads to Political Crisis: Liz Truss Resigns as Prime Minister after Only 45 Days in Office

World headlines often dominate over a weekend, but it’s hard to imagine any weekend that can match in recent history, at least the weekend that we just experienced, because headline stories coming from Britain, coming from Russia and Ukraine, coming from China, all of them add up to issues of great world consequence and very significant worldview importance. So let’s start in Britain because the big news broke just as the weekend was beginning that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would resign after only 45 days in office. And thus Liz Truss, the current Prime Minister becomes the prime minister to serve the shortest term in the entire history of England. And that’s a very long history. It’s a long history and it’s a short term, but just to consider the amount of political turmoil going on in Britain, America’s closest ally, just consider this.

Just over the course of the last several years, there have been three prime ministers. There have been two monarchs, and in the shortest premiership in the history of England, you had one person who for 45 days bridged those two reigns. She was asked to serve as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II, and yet she resigned to King Charles III. That just caps off an amazing period of a few days and tumultuous weeks going on in Britain. There are huge stories here for our consideration. For one thing, just the issue of political leadership. How is it that someone can win a leadership election and then have to resign from office 45 days later? And remember, she wasn’t hounded from office by her political opposition party, but rather by her own party. Now, in just a few minutes, we’re going to talk about the worldview dimensions or at least some of them of a parliamentary system of government. But that does mean that in general you can only be removed as party leader by your own party.

And that’s exactly what happened. But the tumult in Britain’s Conservative Party has demonstrated a party that is not really very honestly described as conservative, certainly in the way that it is operating, and certainly in terms of its temperament. For one thing, you had the previous Prime Minister Boris Johnson hounded from office because of scandals. Many of them related to the fact that during his administration during the darkest days of the COVID epidemic, he broke his own government’s rules and at least tolerated senior members of his government in breaking those rules in parties that were clearly illegal there in Britain during the time of the COVID shutdowns. Now that led to a crisis of confidence, but quite frankly, when you’re looking at Boris Johnson, you are looking at one gigantic political figure. In some sense, he is a parallel to the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Outsized personalities who rose to leadership largely because of those outsized personalities. Exaggerated personalities in one sense, who used those exaggerated personalities to their political gain and their political advantage.

Until by the time Boris Johnson left office, he basically appeared to have crashed all of his political prospects. Theresa May was someone who had served in his government. More about that in just a moment. But even as Boris Johnson left, he gave an indication that he still thought he might have a political future. How about a political future just a matter of something like 45 days after in humiliation resigning from office? Because Boris Johnson is back in the leadership race for the Conservative Party. That’s a race that will be over by the end of this week, and he is seeking to replace Liz Truss who replaced him just 45 days before she had to resign last week. Now, as we’re thinking about worldview dimensions, just understand it was policy first and foremost that brought down Liz Truss. She had a very impressive political resume, a graduate of Oxford University.

She was first elected to Parliament in Britain in 2010, so that’s 12 years ago. That’s a pretty significant rise in a period of 12 years going from a new member of parliament to being prime minister. On the way, she served as Britain’s foreign secretary. Many Americans got to know her during the period of 2021 to 2022 when she was Britain’s foreign secretary. Lots of relationships, lots of meetings with the United States, lots of press coverage, but she also made history back in 2016 when she became the first woman to serve as Britain’s Secretary of State and as Lord Chancellor. Now you don’t have to know a whole lot about the British government system or English history to understand that when you’re talking about Lord Chancellor, you are talking about the same high office that has been held by people such as Sir Thomas More. No small thing.

But even as Liz Truss had all that political experience, she did not have executive experience. She had basically no runway in terms of the learning curve to find out how to lead a party in a parliamentary system in a period of great urgency. And she was facing along with her government, enormous economic pressures. And so she went for a radical move and that radical move was her downfall because as we shall see, the markets responded very negatively and thus her political support entirely collapsed. In just a matter of days, she will have gone from being Britain’s new prime minister to being Britain’s newest former prime minister. And as I say, economic policy had a lot to do with it. She pushed through a big agenda of tax cuts. Now, a lot of conservatives will believe that tax cuts are a very significant way to stimulate the economy, especially as you’re looking at a downturn.

The problem is that Liz Truss offered no way to pay for those tax cuts, and thus they were not revenue-neutral. And Britain’s economy has had periods of relative health and relative decline. But the big picture is, one of the things we all need to recognize is that there are now extra-government, non-governmental factors that have a lot to say about the survival of a government. And we might find out that that’s true in the United States as well as in Britain. And we’re talking primarily about the banks and the markets because if you are in charge of the politics and thus the economic policy of a government, then you need the markets to respond favorably to your actions. If not in the short term, then at least offering hope that this might work out and the markets might offer some support later. But when the markets, and in this case it was overwhelming when the markets respond so negatively that Britain was looking at its economy tanking. The new prime minister simply had to go, and it was to the interest of her own party that she be shown the door very quickly.

She went in 24 hours to saying she would not resign to offering her resignation statement. She said she was a fighter, but this was not a fight she could win. Now, as I said, we should know by the end of this week who Britain’s new prime minister is, and that will have a lot to do with the future even of American relations with the United Kingdom. The two most important candidates likely to face off in the process this week are Boris Johnson, the former Prime Minister, and then Rishi Sunak, who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is to say a position which is more powerful than the American Secretary of the Treasury, but at least involves similar responsibilities. This is the chief economic post. Rishi Sunak is known as a policy expert and his appointment would likely be greeted rather warmly by the markets.

But nonetheless, it is also likely that Boris Johnson is going to be a formidable figure to beat because several things are in his favor. Number one, he has been a highly charismatic prime minister. He is an outsized political personality. He is loved and he is hated. But what is undeniable is that in the most recent election, he led the Conservative Party to a massive victory. And thus, in one sense, Boris Johnson can say that the British people knowing that he was head of the Conservative Party gave the Conservative Party a massive mandate. Thus, in the name of the British people, he should be returned to office. Now by the way, that just raises a very interesting historical note, which is that if you’re looking at two men who would then be in leadership, but who would be in temperament and in personality virtually absolutely contradictory, absolutely opposite to each other, those two men would be King Charles III and Boris Johnson.

It is very hard to imagine the two of them in a room weekly. Now, as we’re thinking in worldview dimensions, it is important for us to recognize that leadership does require and certain context of leadership urgently require a matter of projection of confidence by a leader. The leader has to be capable of inspiring her own people, in this case in the Conservative Party, but also the nation to rally around the leader’s vision. That just didn’t happen with Liz Truss. And then you recognize that at a period of maximum transition and maximum economic challenge, what you can describe as a political crisis, the last thing you need is leadership that simply can’t inspire. And that’s where you can see the Conservative Party just making the decision, “We are going to crash with Liz Truss as head of our party and as prime minister. We had better make that crash happen really fast in order that we might have some time for recovery, putting together a new economic policy”, since hers was absolutely repudiated.

There are so many dimensions of leadership, but at least one part, one central part of the effectiveness and credibility of a leader has to be the ability to say, “Here is the direction we should go.” And then as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made very clear, “Inspire others to go with you.” And Margaret Thatcher famously said, “If you are a leader, then look behind you, there had better be followers. If there are no followers, then guess what? You are not a leader.” So we’ll continue to watch the situation in Britain, but it is likely to be… an understatement would say it’s going to be interesting. The leadership race for the Conservative Party, the question as to whether or not following the prime minister of shortest tenure in the history of Britain, there might be a return to office after only a matter of a few weeks of someone like Boris Johnson who was hounded from office in the face of scandal just a matter of a few weeks ago.

But sometimes in politics, just a few weeks can seem like an eternity. And then again, sometimes just a few weeks can feel like just a few weeks. Stay tuned.

Part II

Our Closest Ally Is in a Fight for Political Stability (Without a Written Constitution): Britain and Her Parliamentary System

But meanwhile, as we’re thinking about the worldview dimensions and we’re thinking about the fall of Prime Minister Liz Truss there in the United Kingdom, let’s look at a comparison between Britain’s parliamentary system and the American constitutional system because there are some big worldview issues that come into play here and just very quickly we can think about them for a moment. Now, for one thing, the British have often explained and claimed that their parliamentary system gives them more stability than what you see in the American constitutional order. Now, let’s just cut to the quick. It is really, really hard to make that argument from Britain’s side right now. As a matter of fact, Britain’s parliamentary system looks pretty fragile and chaotic right now.

As you look at the Conservative Party and remember, it faces off against the far more liberal Labor Party. Most importantly, they’re in Britain. Those are the two major parties. And as you look at those two parties, you recognize, it is a continual argument. But here’s a parallel for the American political scene. These days some of the most interesting and heated arguments take place not between Britain’s two major parties, but within them. But let’s just remind ourselves how Britain’s parliamentary system works because there’s some huge worldview issues here. For one thing, the British system is democratic in the little de-sense that it does represent an electoral process. And you’re looking at two different houses, the House of Commons and then the House of Lords. For most of Britain’s history, the House of Lords was overwhelmingly hereditary. As you look by the way, the American system, two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Senate was never hereditary. But in the United States, the Senate is the upper chamber. Only 100 seats, two seats per state regardless of population. And with six-year terms, unlike in Congress with two-year terms. As you’re looking at the British Parliament and as you’re looking at the House of Commons, recognize that in modern British history, all prime ministers come from the House of Commons. That was not always the case. It wasn’t the case at the time that United States fought Britain in what we call the Revolutionary War. But in modern British history, it is going to be the leader of the party that has the majority in the House of Commons who will serve as prime minister. Now, that’s not written down in the British Constitution because the British Constitution isn’t written down. But nonetheless, it is well understood. And here I’ll simply say, I think having a written constitution is a great asset, but nonetheless, as you look at the British Constitution, the prime Minister has a very effective role as head of government.

But Britain’s Prime Minister is not the head of state. The head of state is the reigning monarch. In this case, it would be King Charles III. Now just remember that on the American side, our chief executive is both head of state and head of government. And thus, this leads to some awkward situations as you consider the foreign policy engagement between the United States and Britain, because the president can meet with the Prime Minister as two heads of government, but the Prime Minister is not the head of state. And that’s the reason why at that level, it is the reigning monarch who would meet with the President of the United States as the heads of state would gather for conversation. And so there are strengths to the American system. I’m a firm believer in the American system, but the separation between the head of state and head of government is intended to remove the head of state from the active day-to-day bruising engagement with politics.

But of course, that leads to a liability on the other side because Britain’s head of state can’t speak for the specific policies of Britain because that’s a matter of politics, and that is under the domain of the head of government, the Prime Minister. But as I said, there are some strengths to the parliamentary system. Here’s one of the strengths. Even as the prime ministers, the head of government, at least in theory, he or she can’t lose a vote in Parliament. Now, how would that be true? It’s true because you only become Prime Minister by being head of the majority party, and thus in any vote that simply needs a majority. Guess what? You can’t lose. Now for generations, British politicians have turned to that fact and said, “Look, Americans, you elect presidents, but in many cases they can’t do as much as they would hope because they are checked by a Congress of the other party or by opposition from within their own party. But that wouldn’t happen given the party discipline in the British system.”

But what you’re seeing right now is the breakdown of that party discipline. And going back to Prime Minister Liz Truss, just recognize that’s why most importantly, most crucially, she fell, and that is because she did not have the confidence of her own party. She could not get her proposals through her own party, much less through the larger Parliament. British citizens and American citizens have and no doubt will debate the relative merits of our two constitutional systems. But what can’t be debated is the fact that Britain is America’s closest ally, an irony to be sure considering the history of the United States of America. But one of the foundations of America’s role in the world is the closeness of our relationship with Britain. As Winston Churchill said, “We are looking at the English-speaking peoples and a closeness when it comes to tradition, to politics, to policy, and to understanding right and wrong in the world, a commonality that comes quite naturally to the English-speaking peoples.”

And thus, we’ll be watching very closely what takes place in Britain in coming days because what happens there is related to what happens here, and thus it should be important to us even as it surely is of importance right now to the citizens of Great Britain.

Part III

The One Man at the Very Top of China’s One Party Rule: Xi Jinping Secures Unprecedented Third Five-Year Term and Sets China on Collision Course with the West

But next we turn to China and we look at the just concluded five-year meeting of the Chinese Communist Party that establishes policy and leadership for that country going forward. And you’ll just recall that it was in 1949 that communist forces under the leadership of Mao Zedong took control of mainland China and established what became known as the PRC or the People’s Republic of China entirely under the domination of China’s Communist Party. Now, there’s some ironies there we’re going to look at in just a few moments, but right now we need to recognize that the most important thing that happened in the course of this five-year party conference was that Xi Jinping, the leader of China’s Communist Party was appointed to an unprecedented third five-year term. Now under his leadership, and he can basically at this point be described as a dictator.

He’s often referred to in the West as Chairman Xi, but Michael Schumann writing for the Atlantic gets it exactly right when he says, “The right thing to say at the end of this five-year conference is, ‘Behold, Emperor Xi.'” Because that is exactly how Xi Jinping is now understood to be operating in China. He is unquestionably the one man at the very top of a one-man rule. Now, even as we’re talking about the Chinese Communist Party, there was of course all of the folderol, all of the theater, all of the pageantry in the stagecraft that China’s Communist Party has put forward every five years, that massive room with those massive desks sitting on those raised platforms with the giant red curtains, and then the hammer and sickle centered right behind the speakers’ rostrum. It looks like something right out of Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich in terms of the propaganda and the stage craft.

But in this case, the color is red as in communist revolutionary red. Now, I said there’s some ironies. Here’s one of the ironies. Here you have Xi Jinping claiming for the Chinese Communist Party the right to go forward with what he calls communism with Chinese characteristics. And he talks about China’s unique history and destiny and its role in the world. But even as you look at that Chinese Communist Party gathering, so much of the imagery is actually Western. They’re wearing Western suits and the hammer and sickle in the background, that was not organically Chinese. That of course, goes back to the Bolshevik Revolution, which took place, first of all, not in China, but in Russia in 1917.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal got it exactly right in their lead editorial the thoughts of Chairman Xi when they write, “The most important election in the world this year is no election at all. It’s a coronation. When China’s Communist Party anoints President Xi Jinping to a third five-year term this week, it will confirm China’s combination of aggressive nationalism and communist ideology. That is the single biggest threat to world freedom. It all but guarantees an era of confrontation between China and the United States.”

Now, just to be very clear, that is exactly what was implicit and explicit in the pageantry in the state craft and in the statements of Xi Jinping and others, but in particular of Xi Jinping as he was holding forth for 104 minutes in front of the Chinese Communist Party conference before it concluded. By the way, it’s interesting that The Washington Post just a few days ago ran an article with a headline, Biden, meaning President Biden views China as a bigger challenge than Russia. And just looking at the headline, that is an issue in which the White House would be profoundly correct.

China is a far larger challenge in terms of America’s role in the world than Russia. That is not to minimize the threat of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is to say no one right now can look at Vladimir Putin’s Russia and say that is a culture which is ascending. But as you look at China and China’s ruling communist party, it is ascending and intends to ascend in terms of influence in the world, and that influence is malign. That is to say it is for evil. There’s so much for us to consider here. But at the very bottom line, you have the great clash of worldviews, which marks the distinction between the West, so shaped by Christianity, even if it doesn’t want to admit it in Christian understandings of human dignity and human rights that leads to constitutional self-government. In so many cases, it certainly leads to a Western influence which points to the importance of the individual as well as to the society.

And you compare that not only with a long tradition of more than a millennium, more than a thousand years of China’s history, but also specifically to China’s embrace of Marxism. And China clearly understands its reaffirmation of Marxist ideology to be the basic fuel and structure of how it intends to confront the United States of America and a battle for attention and influence and power on the world scene. But as we’re looking at the communist regime there in China, understand we’re looking at a dictatorship. We’re looking at an autocracy. We are looking at one of the most oppressive forms of totalitarianism ever found in world history. We are looking at a regime currently carrying out genocide against the Uyghur people, and we are looking at a society that surveils its own people right down to their daily movements every single day.

A major report in the World Press over the weekend indicated that if you go to a place, say you take a train to another city, when you come back, you can expect a visit by a party official to ask you why you went there and why you went even to specific places where the surveillance cameras indicated you had gone. Now just look at that and you recognize what a difference that is from the American and the Western understanding of government and of liberty. But also understand that Xi Jinping holds onto power not just because he is at the head of the Communist Party, but because he eliminates opposition.

As so many in the World Press have noted a succession of purges under the leadership of Xi Jinping means that most of his political enemies have simply disappeared from the stage or been completely neutralized. But even in the waning hours of the last party conference, those who are watching the televised feed, and that included a lot of Westerners, saw an amazing thing. In recent years, those leaders had simply disappeared, they were not officially or formally removed. But in the course of the final hours of the Chinese Communist Party’s conference, the former leader of that party, the man who was the predecessor to Xi Jinping, that would be Hu Jintao, he was removed from the meeting publicly, escorted off the platform, taken away as a watching world was observing every single second of it happening.

Xi Jinping sat there absolutely impassively. His absolutely unmoving face indicating just how this kind of issue is handled under the leadership of the Communist Party. Usually, we should note off-camera, this time on-camera. That cannot be by accident. That was to send a signal too. Under the leadership of China’s Communist Party, that country has an emperor, and the emperor just sits there as you are escorted off the stage.

So much of consequences happened in the last several days. But the worldview dimensions of what has taken place in China and in Britain demanded our first attention this week. But we’re going to have a lot to talk about this week because not only our events in the larger world not standing still, you know full well that there is plenty going on right here in the United States of America. Already, we know this much.

There’ll be plenty for us to talk about and think about this week.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information good to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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