Boris Johnson is frontrunner for PM but he'll face the same Brexit nightmare

Posted Friday, 24 May 2019 ‐ CNN

London (CNN)After months of speculation, attempts to oust her and parliamentary defeats, the fate of Theresa May is finally sealed. But although there is clarity about her political career -- now she has announced she will resign on June 7 and set the timetable to elect a new Prime Minister -- the future of the Conservative Party, the government and the UK is far from clear. All of this hinges now on who will be elected as May's successor and that person's position on Brexit.The frontrunner is the former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, the clear favorite among Conservative members who will ultimately elect a new leader -- but they'll only do so once two candidates are put forward for a runoff after a knockout contest by Tory lawmakers.That contest will formally start after May resigns on June 7, although the race has already unofficially begun. Until then, May has two weeks to perform her duties as Prime Minister, including a major state visit by US President Donald Trump and his family in the first week of June, which will take in a State Banquet with the Queen, as well as D-Day commemorations. Even though May's legacy, as the PM who failed to deliver Brexit, is already fixed, these final days will allow her to finesse that departure with some dignity.In contrast to those ceremonial matters of state, a far dirtier, messier business is underway in Westminster: Conservative lawmakers fighting each other to be the next PM. Having been at each other's throats over Brexit, a leadership contest will likely deepen those divisions. The task for the new leader is to bring the party together again.Johnson may have huge support among party grassroots, but his popularity among Tory MPs is more muted. According to the website conservativehome.com, the current Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has the most supporters among MPs: 27, compared to 19 for Johnson. Hunt was instrumental in hastening May's departure by holding private talks with her on Thursday -- although he did not directly tell her to quit, he said she had no hope of passing her new compromise Brexit deal put forward earlier this week. The new deal had been already widely criticized by lawmakers from all parties, including those normally loyal to the Prime Minister. After that, there was no way back for May.While Johnson and Hunt may be the frontrunners, the contest is wide open, with more than 15 MPs having either already declared or planning to. In the Cabinet, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a leading figure in the 2016 campaign to leave the EU but who has been loyal to May in trying to get her original withdrawal deal through the Commons, could bring together the different wings of the party. Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who voted Remain but has tacked towards the Brexiteer wing in the past three years, and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, a prominent Leave campaigner, are all strong contenders. Dominic Raab, who resigned as May's second Brexit Secretary last autumn because he could not support the withdrawal agreement that he played a part in agreeing with Brussels, is admired by Brexiteer lawmakers.Among this wide field of contenders could stand a man or woman who could stop Johnson from making it through to the final run-off among party members. If that does not happen, the premiership is likely to be Johnson's. This would be an extraordinary turnaround for a man whose record as Foreign Secretary, before he resigned last July, was patchy at best: he has been blamed for worsening the predicament of the jailed British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and often left diplomats and officials bemused or aghast while on foreign excursions. Last August, weeks after his resignation, Johnson caused controversy by comparing Muslim women who wear face veils to letterboxes. It is this record which makes some of his Tory colleagues -- not to mention politicians across Westminster - deeply uneasy.What's more, there are fears that the Conservative Party will elect a Brexiteer Prime Minister who would be happy for the UK to leave the EU without a deal -- something May tried to stop. Some Brexiteer candidates may even push for a "managed no deal," arguing that May had been too soft on Brexit. While there is no majority in the House of Commons for a no-deal Brexit, because of the fears over the economic damage this could bring, this outcome will happen by default if there is no formal deal passed by October 31, the new Brexit date. Even though the prime minister will change, the numbers in Parliament will not -- unless the new leader calls a snap election during his or her honeymoon period. May's successor, of whatever strand of Conservatism or stance on Brexit, will still have to get a deal through the Commons. That's a huge task. For Westminster and for the UK, there are still months of uncertainty ahead.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The 2020 Democratic candidates for president are everywhere. We know their policies. We know their playlists. But do we know their dogs? Donald Trump eschewed tradition when he entered the White House pet-less. The last pups to live in the Oval...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Some might say Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry has already "made it." Now he's using his success to help future generations of African-Americans do the same.The three-time NBA champion has announced he will fund the first six years of a new...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Thirty years ago, NASA's Voyager 2 mission flew by Neptune, capturing the first close-up images of the blue gas giant. Before this, the eighth planet in our solar system was only known as a fuzzy dot in the distance. And the end of Voyager 2's...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The US is warning Iran it's taking Tehran's threats seriously and will hold it accountable if it compromises the safety of any American.The comments came in a tweet from US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus on Saturday, after Iran...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Cherokee Nation announced Thursday that it intends to appoint a delegate to the US House of Representatives, asserting for the first time a right promised to the tribe in a nearly 200-year-old treaty with the federal government.It was a historic ...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Houston, Texas (CNN)Two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas in August 2017, as historic rainfall submerged parts of Houston, the Army Corps of Engineers released water from two reservoirs into a river running through one of the country's...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)United Airlines is suspending daily service from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Hong Kong starting next month, the company confirmed to CNN Saturday. "While our service between the United States and HKG (Hong Kong) remains a vital part of ...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Moscow (CNN)It's been a heady summer for Russia's embattled political opposition. On August 10, as many as 50,000 people rallied in Moscow calling for fair local elections, the biggest protests seen in the capital since early 2012. Now opposition leaders ...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters Saturday that he will ask US President Donald Trump not to escalate the trade war with China. Johnson made the statements after arriving for the G7 summit in the southwestern French city of...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Quarterback Andrew Luck, the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft and a four-time Pro Bowl selection, is retiring, the Indianapolis Colts player said Saturday night."This is not an easy decision," he told reporters.Injuries have kept Luck, 29, from...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Russia launched two ballistic missiles from nuclear-powered submarines in the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea on Saturday, according to a tweet from the Russian Ministry of Defense. Described as a successful test launch, the missiles were part of...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)On Friday, most of the service members of the Air Force's 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force base in South Carolina will get a needed extra day off. The day off comes after three airmen have died by suicide since May, according to media reports....

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, and author, with Kevin Kruse, of the new book "Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974." Follow him on Twitter at @julianzelizer. The opinions expressed...

Posted Sunday, 25 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Disney teased fans on Saturday with a sneak peek at Cruella de Vil's new punk rock look -- which left fans a little confused.Emma Stone plays the evil dog-napper in the upcoming movie "Cruella," an origin story of the classic "101 Dalmatians."In the ...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Windmills and solar panels may soon be keeping the lights on in the reptile house, and throughout the Detroit Zoo.The zoo, located in Detroit's suburb of Royal Oak, says it's shifting to being powered entirely by renewable energy."We are announcing...