Who could succeed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson?

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Who could succeed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson?

The jockeying to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had begun even before his bombshell resignation Thursday, with several

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The jockeying to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had begun even before his bombshell resignation Thursday, with several potential candidates tipped to take his place in 10 Downing Street.

Johnson, 58, bowed to political reality and stepped down following a mass exodus of lawmakers and officials from his scandal-plagued government — which peaked with the departure of nearly 60 ministers in a span of just 48 hours.

The prime minister’s downfall began after lawmaker Chris Pincher was forced to resign as the Conservative Party’s deputy chief whip June 30 over accusations he groped two men at a private member’s club.

Johnson had to apologize after it emerged that he was briefed about previous sexual misconduct complaints made against Pincher while he worked at the Foreign Office in 2019, a briefing the prime minister said he “had forgotten.”

British PM Boris Johnson
British PM Boris Johnson resigned on Thursday after a mass exodus of lawmakers and officials from his government.
REUTERS

The Pincher scandal followed months of chaos and missteps, including a damning report into boozy parties at Downing Street that broke COVID-19 lockdown rules and saw Johnson fined by police over a gathering that celebrated his 56th birthday.

Johnson vowed Thursday to stay in office until the Conservatives choose a new party leader, a process that could last months. Some lawmakers said that was not soon enough and insisted that Johnson immediately hand over power to his deputy, Dominic Raab.

“As well as resigning as party leader the PM must resign his office,” Tory parliamentary deputy Nick Gibb said. “After losing so many ministers, he has lost the trust and authority required to continue.”

At lest 10 top officials are said to be vying to succeed Johnson, including newly resigned Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt.

A snap YouGov poll found that Wallace was the favorite among Conservative Party members to replace Johnson, followed by Mordaunt and Sunak.

Under Conservative Party rules, leadership bids must be supported by at least eight members of parliament. The parliamentary party votes to eliminate candidates via a series of ballots until just two contenders remain, at which point the voting is turned over to Conservative Party members across the UK.

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace began his political career as a member of Scotland’s devolved assembly in May 1999.
Getty Images

Wallace, 52, an Army veteran, is very popular among the Conservative grassroots and many of his colleagues in the government. His profile has grown since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine as he emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of arming Kyiv’s forces against the Russians.

A former soldier, Wallace was mentioned in dispatches in 1992 after the patrol he was commanding captured an Irish Republican Army guerrilla unit suspected of trying to carry out a bomb attack on British troops.

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

Wallace was security minister from 2016 until 2019, when he moved into his current role.

He supported remaining in the EU ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt was the UK’s first female defense secretary.
Getty Images

Mordaunt, formerly the UK’s first female defense secretary, currently occupies the post of minister of state of trade policy. She has been a prominent supporter of Brexit, and has co-authored a well-received book titled “Greater: Britain After the Storm,” which outlines an optimistic outlook for the country’s future outside of the European Union.

Mordaunt also made national headlines in 2014 by taking part in a now-defunct reality TV diving competition called “Splash!” She was the ninth person eliminated from the field of 20.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak
Until recently, former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was considered to be the favorite to succeed Johnson as PM, but scandals have dinged his public standing.
REUTERS

Rishi Sunak resigned as Johnson’s finance minister on Tuesday, saying the British public “rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.”

Sunak became Chancellor in February 2020, on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, and initially won plaudits for his economic rescue package, including a costly jobs retention program that averted mass unemployment.

But Sunak later faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households. Revelations about his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status and a fine Sunak received for breaking COVID lockdown rules have also damaged his standing.

His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undercutting the party’s long-standing platform of lower taxes and spending.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has a high profile within the Conservative Party.
AFP via Getty Images

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, like Wallace, is a darling of the Tory base 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, echoing a famous 1986 photo of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The 46-year-old initially campaigned against Brexit but said after the referendum that she had changed her mind and supported leaving the European Union.

She spent the first two years of Johnson’s premiership as international trade secretary and was appointed Britain’s lead negotiator with the EU last year.

Truss is now in charge of dealing with Brussels over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, where she has taken an increasingly tough line in negotiations.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt
Ex-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt finished second behind Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest.
via REUTERS

Jeremy Hunt, 55, a former foreign secretary, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 Conservative leadership contest. In contrast to the current prime minister, Hunt is known for his serious nature and avoidance of controversy.

Unlike the other contenders, Hunt has not served in Johnson’s government, which may make him attractive to Conservative members eager for a fresh start.

Hunt said he voted to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month that the prime minister narrowly won and admitted earlier this year that his ambition to become prime minister “hasn’t completely vanished.”

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid, a former banker, resigned as Johnson’s finance minister in 2020.
AP

Sajid 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 Conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher.

A former banker and a champion of free markets, Javid has served in a number of Cabinet roles, most recently as health minister. He previously resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020 (to be replaced by Sunak) amid a dispute over which advisers Javid would be allowed to choose.

The son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, Javid is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher and finished fourth in the 2019 leadership contest won by Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi
Zahawi was part of a delegation of Cabinet members who tried to convince Johnson to step down.
AP

Nadhim Zahawi was appointed by Johnson to replace Sunak as Chancellor Wednesday after he impressed as vaccines minister by overseeing one of the world’s fastest rollouts of COVID shots.

Hours after taking charge of Britain’s finances, Zahawi was part of a delegation of Cabinet members who tried to convince Johnson to step down. When the prime minister initially refused, Zahawi publicly released a letter to Johnson Thursday morning, accusing the PM of “undermining the achievements of this Government at this late hour.”

The release of the letter is widely seen as the last straw that convinced Johnson his position was untenable.

A native of Iraq who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime with his family in the late-1970s, Zahawi co-founded polling company YouGov before entering Parliament in 2010. He was quoted last week as saying it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister at some stage.

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat, the chair of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and a former soldier who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, has already indicated he would run in any leadership contest.

He has been a regular critic of Johnson and, like Hunt, would appeal to those who wish a clean break with the scandal-laden government. However, he has never even served in Cabinet, a lack of experience that many Conservatives would consider a demerit.

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman
Braverman served as a junior minister in the Brexit department under former Prime Minister Theresa May,
Getty Images

The Brexit-backing Attorney General for England and Wales, Suella Braverman has already said she plans to run for the leadership. She was heavily criticized over the Johnson government’s attempt to set out post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland –which is unique among UK countries in that it shares a land border with European Union member Ireland.

Braverman campaigned to leave the EU and served as a junior minister in the Brexit department under former Prime Minister Theresa May, but resigned in November 2018 in protest at May’s proposed Brexit deal, saying it did not go far enough in breaking ties with the bloc.

With Post Wires

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