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As Boris Johnson Resigns as UK PM, News18 Decodes Way Ahead for Him And Possible Successor

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: July 08, 2022, 00:38 IST

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to media next to 10 Downing Street in London on July 7. (Image: AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to media next to 10 Downing Street in London on July 7. (Image: AP)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday amid a mass revolt by top members of his government

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned on Thursday following a mass revolt of ministers who said he was not fit to govern. Johnson said he would remain as prime minister until the party chooses his successor. The timetable for that process will be announced next week, he said. The British PM had narrowly survived a confidence vote last month, giving him 12 months of immunity from another one. But some lawmakers in his Conservative Party had been trying to change the party rules to shorten that immunity period.

News18 brings you a lowdown on names doing the rounds for his replacement and other developments:

Conservative Contest

Johnsons resignation sparks a party contest to replace him as leader. All Conservative lawmakers are eligible to run, and party officials could open the nominations within hours.

After candidates have come forward, Conservative lawmakers vote in a series of elimination rounds. The candidate with the lowest number of votes drops out, and voting continues until there are two contenders left. Depending on the number of candidates, the process could be completed within days.

The final two candidates will be put to a vote of the full party membership across the country about 180,000 people by postal ballot. That process is expected to take several weeks, with the exact timetable up to the 1922 Committee that runs party elections.

The winner of the vote will become both Conservative leader and prime minister, without the need for a national election.

Johnson shows no signs of going early. He appointed several new Cabinet ministers to replace those he has lost and said they would serve as “I will until a new leader is in place”.

If party officials press Johnson to quit sooner and he refuses, the chaos engulfing the government could worsen in the short term. Already the government has had to cancel business in Parliament because it has no ministers available to attend.

Finding A Successor

A process will now be held to find a new leader. Here is how the process, which is overseen by the 1922 Committee, is likely to work:

– Candidates putting themselves forward for the leadership must be nominated by two other Conservative lawmakers. There could be a wide field of candidates.

– Conservative lawmakers then hold several rounds of votes to whittle down the number of candidates. Each time they are asked to vote for their favoured candidate in a secret ballot, and the person with the fewest votes is eliminated.

– This process is repeated until there are two candidates remaining. Votes previously have been held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

– The final two candidates are then put to a postal ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership, with the winner named the new leader.

– The leader of the party with a majority in the House of Commons is the de facto prime minister. They do not have to call a snap election, but have the power to do so.

How Long Will it All Take?

The length of time the leadership contest takes can vary, depending on how many people put themselves forward. Theresa May became leader less than three weeks after predecessor David Cameron resigned in 2016 and all other contenders dropped out mid-race.

Johnson faced former health minister Jeremy Hunt in the run-off ballot of Conservative members to replace May in 2019, and took office two months after May announced her intention to resign.

Probable replacements

LIZ TRUSS

The foreign secretary is the darling of the ruling Conservative Party’s grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home.

Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, evoking a famous 1986 image of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was also captured in such a pose.

The 46-year-old spent the first two years of Johnson’s premiership as international trade secretary, championing Brexit, and last year was appointed as Britain’s lead negotiator with the European Union.

Truss said on Monday Johnson has her “100% backing” and she urged colleagues to support him.

JEREMY HUNT

The former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership.

Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair the health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government.

Earlier this year, he said his ambition to become prime minister “hasn’t completely vanished”. Hunt said he would vote to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month which Johnson narrowly won.

BEN WALLACE

Defence minister Ben Wallace, 52, has risen in recent months to be the most popular member of the government with Conservative Party members, according to Conservative Home, thanks to his handling of the Ukraine crisis.

A former soldier himself, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992.

He began his political career as a member of Scotland’s devolved assembly in May 1999, before being first elected to the Westminster parliament in 2005.

He was security minister from 2016 until taking on his current role three years later, winning plaudits for his department’s role in the evacuation of British nationals and allies from Afghanistan last year, and the sending of weapons to Kyiv during the recent war in Ukraine.

RISHI SUNAK

Sunak, who resigned as finance minister on Tuesday saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, was until last year the favourite to succeed Johnson.

He was praised for a rescue package for the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, including a jobs retention programme, which prevented mass unemployment, that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion).

But Sunak has faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status and a fine he received, along with Johnson, for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules.

His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favour lower taxes.

SAJID JAVID

Javid was the first cabinet minister to resign in protest over accusations that Johnson misled the public over what he knew about sexual harassment allegations against a Conservative lawmaker.

A former banker and a champion of free markets, Javid has served in a number of cabinet roles, most recently as health minister. He resigned as Johnson’s finance minister in 2020.

The son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents, he is an admirer of the late Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Javid finished fourth in the 2019 leadership contest to replace former Prime Minister Theresa May.

NADHIM ZAHAWI

The newly appointed finance minister impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the fastest rollouts of Covid-19 jabs in the world.

Zahawi’s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other Conservative contenders.

He went on to co-found polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. His last job was as education secretary. Zahawi said last week that it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister at some stage.

PENNY MORDAUNT

The former defence secretary was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she backed his rival Hunt during the last leadership contest.

Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in now-defunct reality TV diving show.

Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She said voters wanted to see “professionalism and competence” from the government.

She had previously expressed loyalty to Johnson.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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first published:July 07, 2022, 12:14 IST
last updated:July 08, 2022, 00:38 IST