Who will succeed Boris Johnson in the UK?

Who will succeed; will be 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, ex-minister of finance, 42 years old

Mr Sunak was one of the very first to position himself in the race he himself provoked, explains Thibaud Harrois, lecturer in contemporary British civilization at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, in Paris. . It was he 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 began the process that led to the withdrawal of Boris Johnson.

His departure, immediately followed by that of Health Minister Sajid Javid, began the wave that finally won the Prime Minister.

Born in Southampton, on the English south coast, to parents from India, Rishi Sunak made his fortune in high finance.< /p>

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, such as the former Minister of Health, Sajid Javid, and the former Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel.

But 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 from Stanford University, California, Mr. Sunak was an analyst at 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, Paris.

This fairly elitist environment could work against it as the Conservatives try to broaden their electoral base by seeking votes in the more traditionally Labor north of England, Mr. Harrois argues. Mr. Sunak does not have that profile, he adds.

Tax reduction was at the heart of the exchanges between the candidates, underlines 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. Moreover, he is a billionaire and not really a man of the people.

Liz Truss is Foreign Secretary in the Johnson government.

Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary , 46

Over the years, Ms. Truss has held several cabinet positions that have placed her in the spotlight. She is known 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 years old

Ms Mordaunt, who was one of the faces of Brexit, held ministerial posts in the governments of David Cameron and Theresa May.

This 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 anti-Sunak and anti-Truss lobbies, notes 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, a professor in the history department at McGill University.

They also have no proposals for reaching younger voters, who have massively turned away from the Conservatives, adds Lewis.

The 358 Tory MPs choose the finalists in a multi-round ballot that began July 13. At the end of the last round, Wednesday, July 20, only two candidates will remain.

It will then be up to party members (between 160,000 and 200,000) to decide 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, remarks Mr. Harrois.

This would allow him to immediately secure five years in power rather than having to wait until the 2024 deadline, without knowing what would be the situation then, 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: 'Nobody tipped me off.' The continuation 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 strong concerns and in which direction we are going: will it be more liberal or more interventionist? »

— Thibaud Harrois, lecturer at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, 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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