Who will succeed Boris Johnson in the UK?


Who will succeed will be to Boris Johnson in the UK?

Boris Johnson leaves Conservative Party leader after three tumultuous years.

We will know today who will be the two finalists in the race to succeed Boris Johnson. The Conservative leader resigned on July 7 after the resounding departure of around 50 members of his government, including several ministers and other Cabinet members, who claimed they no longer trusted him.

Ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak came first in the fourth ballot.

Rishi Sunak, former finance minister, 42

Mr. Sunak was one of the very first to position himself in the race that he himself provoked, explains Thibaud Harrois, lecturer in contemporary British civilization at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris. He was the one who was a bit of a maneuver in this story because he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of the most important positions in finance. And it was following his resignation that the process began which led to the withdrawal of Boris Johnson.

His departure, immediately followed by that of the Health Minister Sajid Javid, started the wave that eventually swept the prime minister away.

Born in Southampton, on England's south coast, to parents from India, Rishi Sunak made his fortune in high finance.

If elected, it would be the first time that a person of Indian descent has found himself at the head of the United Kingdom. However, Thibaud Harrois points out, there have already been several ministers from the Indian subcontinent, including Mr Javid and former Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Apart from their origin, they are politicians taken from a mold that could not be more classic, specifies Mr. Harrois.

Rishi Sunak is a product of Oxford, where he did the philosophy, politics and economics curriculum, like most recent prime ministers. He has a traditional conservative profile. After an MBA at Stanford University in California, he was an analyst for Goldman Sachs and a partner in two hedge funds.

“This n&#x27 is not someone who comes from a lower class or has a different upbringing. »

—  Thibaud Harrois, lecturer at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris.

This rather elitist environment could work against it as conservatives try to broaden their electoral base by going in particular to seek votes in the north of England, more traditionally Labor, supports Mr. Harrois. Mr. Sunak does not have that profile, he adds.

Tax reduction was at the heart of the exchanges between the candidates, notes Brian Lewis, professor in the Department of History at McGill University. On this issue, Mr. Sunak is the most realistic since he is not proposing immediate tax cuts. But he is vulnerable because as chancellor he raised taxes to levels not seen since the 1940s to deal with COVID-19. Besides, he's a billionaire and not really a man of the people.

Liz Truss is Foreign Secretary in the Johnson government.

Liz Truss, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 46

Over the years, Ms. Truss has held a number of cabinet posts that have thrust her into the limelight. She is recognized for her unequivocal support for free trade.

She is the candidate of the hard right and the camp of Boris Johnson, observes Brian Lewis. But she is mocked as being a chameleon, lacking in substance and having poor debating skills.

Penny Mordaunt is a British Royal Navy Reservist.

Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Trade, 49

Mrs Mordaunt, who was a face of Brexit, held posts in the governments of David Cameron and Theresa May.

She is the least known of the three finalists, but she is the least tainted by the Johnson years and has established herself as the compromise candidate between the lobbies anti-Sunak and anti-Truss, says Bran Lewis.

Ms Mordaunt had a good lead last week in a YouGov poll of Tory voters, but she has since been overtaken by her competitors.

Even though the finalists are all relatively young (under 50), none of them offer anything new or visionary, points out Brian Lewis. They tend to position themselves as hardened Thatcherites, he notes.

“They offer no solution to the Conservatives' main dilemma, which is how to hold together a fragile coalition of wealthy, low-tax, disengagement Conservatives on the one hand. of the state, and, on the other, working-class white Brexiters.

— Brian Lewis, professor in the Department of History at McGill University.

Nor do they have any proposals to reach younger voters, who have turned away overwhelmingly from the Tories, Mr. Lewis adds.

It is the 358 Conservative MPs who choose the finalists in a multi-round ballot that began July 13. At the end of the last round on Wednesday, only two candidates will remain.

It will then be up to party members (between 160,000 and 200,000) to decide in the in the context of a postal vote over the summer. The result is expected on September 5.

Whoever takes the lead of the Conservative Party will automatically become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In the meantime, Boris Johnson remains in office.

Boris Johnson celebrates winning after the results are announced, December 12, 2019 .

As in Canada, the resignation of the leader of the ruling party does not trigger a general election.

Britons last went to the polls in December 2019. The Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, had then won the majority.

The next elections are scheduled for December 2024. But a new leader could decide to call voters to the polls long before, believes Thibaud Harrois.

One can imagine a new Tory Prime Minister looking to take advantage of the weakness of the opposition and call an election before Labor manages to rise in the polls and organize to fight back. win, he says.

It would allow him to secure five years in power right away rather than having to wait until the 2024 deadline without knowing what the situation at that time and whether Labor could recover.

Moreover, argues Mr. Harrois, anticipating the election would allow the new prime minister to gain legitimacy with the entire electorate.

A protester holds up a placard quoting Boris Johnson which reads: 'No one warned me. The suite reads: “Seriously? »

Not all Britons have a say in the Conservative leader election, as only party members can vote. Nevertheless, expectations are high, believes Mr. Harrois.

Boris Johnson is extremely criticized and his way of managing crises has been widely criticized, he recalls. The scandals that have accumulated over his person, and not only over his politics, have stirred up passions.

People are now eager to see how the person elected as Prime Minister will handle the difficult economic situation the country is going through.

“This worries voters. They are waiting to see how the new government will be able to respond to these very serious concerns and in which direction we are going. Will it be more liberal or more interventionist? »

— Thibaud Harrois, lecturer at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris.

However, Brian Lewis disagrees. The British, he believes, have other fish to fry. Most people are more concerned about the cost of living crisis, high energy prices and sweltering heat, Lewis observes.

Mostly, believes he says, since the vast majority of them have no say.

“The The choice of the next Prime Minister will be made by the 160,000 members of the Conservative Party, who are disproportionately white, wealthy, aging men from the South East of England.

— Brian Lewis, professor in the Department of History at McGill University.

Many think it's a funny way to elect a prime minister, he concludes.

Boris Johnson throws in the towel and announces his resignation

With information from Agence France-Presse


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