Monday, August 8

British Conservatives embark on tense and uncertain race to succeed Boris Johnson

Even before Boris Johnson delivered his moody exit speech, the attention of Conservative MPs was already on who could replace him. But unlike in 2019, when Johnson himself spent months as the prince-in-waiting for the crown, there is no obvious successor this time around.

Who are the favorites to succeed Boris Johnson?

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Rishi Sunak, who resigned as finance minister on Tuesday just minutes after Sajid Javid stepped down as health minister, had been the favorite of many until he made a series of mistakes, including his unclear presentation of the economic forecasts.

This Friday, Sunak officially launched his candidacy to lead the Conservative Party and succeed Johnson as Prime Minister with a video in which he talks about the history of his migrant family originally from India and the importance of “honesty” and “seriousness”. . He also uses what seems to be his campaign slogan: “Ready for Rishi” (“ready for Rishi”).

Sunak continues to do well in the polls, among other reasons, because he is better known than many of his potential rivals. But he seems much less favored after the furor caused by his residence permit in the US and the irritation that in some Tories has caused the increase in fiscal pressure under his mandate.

The lack of a clear favorite is part of the reason there are still so many candidates, from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to Jake Berry MP. This Saturday, in addition to Shapps, also The new economy minister, Nadhim Zahawi, announced his candidacy.

unpredictable race

Races for leadership tory they are unpredictable. In 2016, Michael Gove dropped Boris Johnson from the race and Andrea Leadsom dropped out after suggesting that “being a mother” made her more interested in the future of the country than Theresa May, who has had no children.

The favorite Johnson was anointed in 2019, but only after a close competition in which Matt Hancock handed out flyers “Let’s Move Forward” (“let’s take a step forward”), and Rory Stewart was recorded talking to strangers in the #Rorywalks (“Roy walks”), as he called his campaign.

The race, which has just started, has already given surprises. Nadhim Zahawi was seen as a strong contender before he took over as finance minister on Tuesday, made plans to deliver a major economic speech the following week and, less than 48 hours later, published a letter calling for the resignation of Johnson. According to a senior administration official, Zahawi “has come off as a jerk.”

Other parliamentarians say that Zahawi cannot be ruled out as a favorite, who was the face of the vaccination program and who already had a campaign plan in place that was helped.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was caught off guard by the news at a G20 summit thousands of miles away as her rivals scrambled Thursday to drum up support (something several of them have been doing quietly for months). According to him Mail On SundayTruss will announce his candidacy this Monday.

According to a deputy tory From the hardline Brexiteer wing, some MPs who might have supported Truss are now aligning themselves with the Attorney General and big Brexit supporter, Suella Braverman. His supporters hope that Braverman can execute what was expected of Leadsom in 2017: win congressional votes that will take place this July (the party will announce the details of the calendar next week) until reaching the final selection for, from there, courting the party’s right-wing bases. The militants are the last to vote after the deputies have chosen the two finalists in successive votes.

safer options

There are also those who suggest that MPs who enthusiastically supported Boris Johnson in 2019, following Theresa May’s painful period of bungling campaigns and parliamentary gridlock, might once again prefer a safe pair of hands after three years of chaos.

That description could fit Sunak, Javid and Jeremy Hunt. But it is telling that there are some Tories key members of the centrist group One Nation who are backing Foreign Affairs Committee deputy Tom Tugendhat, who has already run and would be something of a wild card, rather than wait for Hunt to announce his candidacy.

Both Javid’s and Hunt’s teams say they continue to consult before making a final decision on any bid.

Javid’s supporters are hoping he will be given credit for precipitating Johnson’s departure, as the cabinet minister who resigned first and even if Sunak followed suit minutes later (both sides have said it was not a coordinated move).

Hunt’s team believes that having been in the second row may benefit him, free from the taint of having allied himself with the prime minister (polls show Johnson is deeply unpopular with the public). But, following their earlier loss in the second round, the members of One Nation might choose to pin their hopes elsewhere.

Among Labor, the most secret fear is the popular and outspoken Penny Mordaunt. According to early polling panels, this Brexiteer is doing well among likely voters. They believe that Sunak, on the other hand, would have a hard time repeating the electoral harvest that made Johnson possible in 2019, adding to the heart of the territories Tories pro-Brexit constituencies that until then had been Labour.

In a few days, it will become much clearer what form the race will take to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. But in this starting gun, everything seems possible.

(This article has been updated by to include news about the candidates).

Translation of Francisco de Zárate.