British Prime Minister, Theresa May on Friday finally steps down as leader of her Conservative Party, a move triggering the race for a successor. The British leader will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen, likely in late July.
May took office after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU and has spent the past three years working on the plan, delaying Brexit twice to try to get it through. But she finally acknowledged defeat in a tearful resignation speech last month, the culmination of months of political turmoil that has slowly sapped all her authority.
Although, eleven (11) conservative MPs are currently vying to replace her, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson, some are expected to drop out before Monday’s deadline for nominations. The winner will have only a few months to decide whether to try to salvage May’s plan, delay Brexit again or sever ties with Britain’s closest trading partner with no agreement at all.
The contestant will be under pressure from eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage, who has called for a “no deal” option and whose Brexit party topped European polls last month. It would be recalled that his party made a strong showing in a by-election for the British parliament in the eastern city of Peterborough on Thursday, but failed in its goal of winning its first MP. However, the pro-European Liberal Democrats, who want to reverse Brexit, also performed well in the European polls, highlighting how divided Britain remains over its future.
The contestant among who are; Johnson, a leading campaigner in the 2016 referendum who quitted the government last year over May’s plan, is among several would-be candidates who say they are willing to do this. But Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another frontrunner, is open to another Brexit delay, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said leaving with no deal is “political suicide”.
It would be recalled that President Donald Trump had placed a phone call toJohnson this week and met both Hunt and Farage. Although, a planned meeting with Gove never materialized with the United States leader, while in the United Kingdom for a three days state visit. Nominations for the contest must be submitted on Monday, and the 313 Conservative MPs including May will hold the first of a series of secret ballots on June 13.
With the worst performers eliminated each time, the goal is to have two candidates left by June 20th. They will then be put to a ballot of an estimated 100,000 party members. The contest should be completed by the week commencing July 22nd.