The Corner


Replacing Theresa May

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May visits the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Wales, July 26, 2018. (Christopher Furlong/Pool via Reuters)

Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May by a seven-point margin, according to a poll on Conservative Home.

With the Conservative party angered by its government’s handling of Brexit, Johnson could help win back support with his idiosyncratic blend of one-nation Conservatism, socially liberal values, and bombastic confidence in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Even his most reluctant supporters admit that he might be what’s needed to ensure that Conservative votes aren’t lost to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. And Johnson also has the advantage of being the polar opposite of Theresa May who is about as inspiring as cardboard left out in the rain.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary, are also likely candidates.

Gove may play something of a kingmaker. In 2016, he thwarted Johnson’s chances at leadership by withdrawing his support at the last minute and running himself. However, while Gove is favored by MPs, many voters consider his past treatment of Johnson to be unforgivable backstabbing.

In terms of Conservative party protocol, candidates are knocked out in rounds and the final two MPs go before the public. With Brexit in the background, this process could be expedited.

Leadership contest rules aren’t the only thing which might change. Yesterday, the 1922 Committee met to discuss whether the Conservative party could change its rules so that they could have another confidence vote in Theresa May. (Currently, one year must pass which means May cannot be challenged again until December.)

Theresa May has told Tory MPs that she will stand down if her deal passes. But it has failed three times. Not only that, Britain is now headed toward pointless European elections in which their newly elected MEPs will have to stand down as soon as Brexit happens. Brexit has been delayed until October 31st, but many worry that under Theresa May another extension is likely.

Behind the scenes, the process for replacing the Tory leader has already begun.

Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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