Who Will Succeed Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister?

Murad Jandali | 2 years ago




Although the number of ruling Conservative Party candidates to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been reduced to just three, the controversy over the identity of the next government's head has not been resolved so far, whether in opinion polls or the trends of conservative representatives.

Over the past days, the Conservative MPs in Parliament held several rounds of voting on the candidates, and the loser who received the least votes left the race.

The mechanism followed requires party MPs to continue in the polling rounds until two candidates are left to compete for the votes of all 200,000 members of the Conservative Party on September 5.

Between the voting of MPs and members, there must be at least a month in which each candidate leads an electoral campaign during which visits several regions and meets with community activities.


Three Candidates

After British PM Boris Johnson, 58, announced on July 7, 2022, his intention to resign after scandals that undermined his reign, 11 members of the Conservative Party revealed their intentions to run to succeed him.

However, only 8 candidates met the basic condition to enter the competition (obtaining the support of 20 MPs from the party) on July 13, 2022, before the number was reduced to 5 candidates after a second round of voting to choose a new leader Conservative, who would also take over as prime minister.

In the third round of polling for Conservative Party MPs, another candidate, Chairman of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Thomas Tugendhat, was excluded from the race.

On July 19, 2022, British former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, 42, led the fourth round of voting for the 358 Conservative MPs.

Meanwhile, former Minister of State for Equality Kemi Badenoch, who represents the party's right wing, was also excluded.

Minister of State at the Department for International Trade Penny Mordaunt (49 years) also remained in second place, followed by Secretary of State for Foreign Liz Truss (46 years).

After the final round, which took place on July 20, 2022, the competition was limited to only two candidates, Sunak and Truss, leaving the decision to be made by the party members who will cast their votes by mail during the summer.

It is not expected that the party members' votes will match the votes of the MPs, which is what the poll indicates, while Sky News correspondent Beth Rigby pointed out that "Sunak is a favorite candidate for MPs, but this is not necessarily the case for party members."

The first candidate, former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, who leads the race so far, belongs to an Indian immigrant family who came to Britain about 5 decades ago.

The second candidate is Liz Truss, who brings out her experience in international affairs as a former Secretary of State and Trade Minister, as well as her pledge to take a tough stance on the European Union in trade disputes between the two sides after Brexit, and has the support of PM Boris Johnson's circle.

The third candidate, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Penny Mordaunt, is a former Marine reservist who was the first woman to hold the position of Defense Secretary in 2019 and is counting on her disassociation from the Johnson government as she did not hold a position there.

The only result that has been decided in the parliamentary elections so far is that the next PM will not be a white man, as the British have been used to for decades; either a leader from an ethnic minority will come to power for the first time in UK history, or the country will see female leadership for the third time in UK and Conservative Party history.

The first experience of women's leadership in party and state was with Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady who ruled Britain from 1979 to 1990. As for the second experience, Theresa May led the party and government for 3 years between 2016 and 2019.


Fierce Debates

The results of the latest round come in the wake of the publication of a YouGov poll showing that Rishi Sunak may lose the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party and the British PM if he faces Liz Truss or Penny Mordaunt in the final vote of party members.

YouGov polled Conservative Party members on July 18 and 19, 2022, after the two televised debates between the two candidates to succeed outgoing PM Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party, Sky News reported.

The poll showed that Truss won over Sunak with 53% of the vote compared to 35% for Sunak, and it also beat Mordaunt with 48% against 42% of the vote.

The poll has even worse news for Sunak, as he not only lost to Truss but lost to Mordaunt by a large margin (37% to 57%).

Prosecutor Suella Braverman, who was excluded from the race, announced her support for Truss, who also won the support of David Frost, the former chief Brexit negotiator.

A sharp rivalry has prevailed between Truss and Sunak since the beginning of the campaign.

Truss is the favorite candidate for Johnson's camp, convinced that Sunak had been preparing for months to succeed the PM, and resigned on July 4, 2022, to hasten Johnson's downfall, while Sunak's supporters deny this.

The Times reported that Johnson is urging the candidates who have fallen out of his race to succeed him to support anyone but Sunak.

In the second television debate, Truss, in particular, attacked her former government colleague, Sunak, accusing him of leading the country into a recession by raising taxes when he took over the money portfolio.

Sunak considered Truss' plan to cut taxes in the face of a deepening cost-of-living crisis as a fantasy.

Meanwhile, Mordaunt criticized Sunak's tax policy, proposing to resort to borrowing to face the cost of the living crisis faced by British families with record inflation last June, reaching 9.4%.

Sunak responded by saying: What Mordaunt is proposing is a socialist approach.


Severe Challenges

Whoever wins the UK leadership race will face challenges to rebuild the public trust that has been dogged by a series of scandals involving Johnson, from breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules to appointing an MP to the government despite reports of allegations of sexual misconduct.

The British economy is also facing a high inflation rate, rising debt, and low growth, with citizens facing the most severe financial crisis in decades.

Besides all this, the country is facing an energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which has led to higher fuel prices.

Johnson, who won a large majority more than two years ago, announced on July 7, 2022, that he would resign after a wave of resignations from ministers and officials and with many Conservative MPs rising against him.

Political opponents say the candidates have focused only on winning the right-wing support of the ruling party by talking about tax cuts and additional defense spending while not addressing the cost of living crisis facing citizens.

On the other hand, British media reported that the second round of discussions of the candidates for the British PM dealt a blow to Johnson when all the candidates remained silent about his future.

According to The Independent, none of the candidates has indicated a willingness to give the incumbent PM a seat in the next government, as they have been asked to raise their hands if they wish to include Johnson on their team, but none of them have done so.

It is noteworthy that on July 18, 2022, the government of British PM Boris Johnson won a confidence vote that it had called itself earlier, as members of the ruling Conservative Party gave their votes to ministers to avoid a nationwide election.

The opposition Labor Party had called on Johnson, who has said he would resign, to step down immediately to be replaced by a caretaker leader until the Conservative Party chooses his successor in early September.

The Labor Party sought a no-confidence vote in the government and Johnson in an attempt to force him to step down sooner.

However, the government objected, saying it was unnecessary because the PM had already confirmed that he was leaving. Then the Conservatives proposed a confidence vote in the government, which it did.

Although Johnson has officially resigned, he so far intends to remain in office until a new Conservative Party leader is elected, who is expected to be named in early September.