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Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics to be considered for Leader columns. Here are the issues that dominated this week:

We kicked off the week by contextualising Liz Truss's appointment as Tory leader, and a day later, prime minister. Not since her hero Margaret Thatcher entered Number 10 in 1979 has Britain faced such dire challenges.

"Her task now is to show she can deploy her political savvy to govern not in the interests of the narrow Tory base but of the whole nation, one in the grip of an acute crisis."

We are likely to return to Truss later in the week, when she unveils her widely leaked plan to cap energy prices after a period of steep inflation triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. She is expected to garner public support for putting in place a long-term cap on consumer prices - but the cost to the public purse is set to top £100bn.

Over the weekend we touched on another dimension of Russia's global muscle-flexing, focusing on the country's little noticed incursions into Africa.

Our editorial board was unequivocal in its assessment. "Without spending a rouble ... Moscow has built a formidable presence in many of the continent’s 54 countries. Its influence is overwhelmingly malign."

Europe’s scramble to secure energy supplies

Europe’s search for new natural gas sources intensified this week as the Kremlin squeezed deliveries from Russian fields by closing its main gas pipeline.

The EU is spending at least €50bn on gas and coal infrastructure - a move that threatens to put emissions targets at risk. One member of the European Parliament described burning more coal as a short-term “unavoidable evil”. But Germany is already relying on highly-polluting coal for a third of its electricity. With no end to the war in Ukraine in sight, short-term could become medium-term.

The US has promised to plug Europe’s supply gap - but it faces a domestic backlash if it goes ahead. The US wholesale gas price is a fraction of that in Europe, but still triple the price of the past decade. That looks likely to push up domestic inflation this winter, already close to 40-year highs. This video looks at how high petrol prices risk killing the American dream.

Meanwhile, Europe’s power producers are running out of cash, despite selling electricity at record prices. That’s because of rising collateral requirements. Finland has warned that the energy sector faces a potential “Lehman Brothers” moment without emergency state funding.

Whatever the cost, ultimately the EU must free itself from dependence on Russian gas, argues Martin Wolf. “Energy is a vital front in [Putin’s] war. It will be costly to win this battle. Yet Europe can and must free itself from Russia’s chokehold,” he writes.

In this video, FT journalists and experts explain how Putin held Europe hostage over energy.

Truss hits reality

Economic reality is about to intrude on Liz Truss, the new UK prime minister, who inherits what Robert Shrimsley describes as a flawed energy security strategy. And top of her agenda is the energy crisis. She gave details today on her £150bn emergency plan to protect UK households from soaring bills. Business support was limited to six months.

The energy bailout will buy Truss political space, but she still faces category 5 economic hurricanes: inflation, recession risks, rising interest rates and fears for sterling.

UK consumers fare worst in the FT’s comparison of European household energy bills. The pound has sunk as markets digest the scale of the economic challenge facing the Tories under Truss.

Insiders say the cost over two winters could reach £150bn. New UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has promised ‘Big Bang 2.0 for the City, but his pledge of sweeping post-Brexit deregulation worries business. Regulation-cutting is a costly business, and potentially confusing.

Meanwhile, UK savers are voting with their feet by fleeing British businesses. They have pulled £6.6bn so far this year - the biggest outflow in a decade. And interest rate rises are likely inevitable, even if Truss freezes energy bills.

BlackRock takes a swipe

Investors dislike “overboarding” - when board members serve too many masters. This week, BlackRock pushed back against directors joining multiple US tech boards. The asset manager voted against reappointments at Salesforce and Twitter, as Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO, intensifies the fund group’s scrutiny of corporate governance.

The world’s biggest asset manager also faced political attacks this week on its use of ESG factors in investing. Republicans argue it prioritises “activism” over fiduciary duty to state pension funds. BlackRock hit back, arguing its strategy was prudent in the face of climate change.

Other corporate highlights

As the legal battle between Elon Musk and Twitter escalates, a court heard this week that Musk wanted to delay his $44bn Twitter deal on the grounds that it “wouldn't make sense to buy Twitter if we’re heading into world war three”, according to texts between the billionaire Tesla chief and his bankers in May.

Lawyers for Twitter dismissed Musks’s effort to exit the deal as “an expensive and gruelling fishing expedition”.

But Musk won one victory after a judge agreed to consider whistleblower allegations by its former Twitter security head, a decision that could open Twitter up to fresh scrutiny over its cyber security.

And Cat Rutter Pooley explains why optimism that shops could reinvent themselves as experience hubs for the Instagram age has not been enough to offset the high costs of property.

Instead, Middle England’s favoured retailer John Lewis has come up with something it calls the “moments economy”.

At a time when consumers are likely to cut back on big-ticket items, focusing on capturing small spending makes sense.
UK non-executive director pay fails to keep pace with workloads

This article is brought to you by FT Specialist’s Agenda, a publication that focuses on corporate boards.
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