With the announcement of Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday that she is resigning on June 7 from the leadership of the ruling Conservative and Unionist Party along with the country’s premiership, the contest has opened for a new name to lead the Tories and the United Kingdom.
May’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson who has also served as London’s mayor is the one lawmaker who has been trying to gather momentum for his Tory leadership bid.
His name appears to be in top among other contenders such as Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Jeremy Hunt.
Brexit campaign architect
Johnson, one of the key architects behind the Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum is famous for his political gaffes, anti-immigration views and a strong dislike of the European Union.
An unapologetic anti-EU voice, the US-born former journalist who gave up his American citizenship so as not to pay US authorities the income tax, has not given up an ounce on his hardliner Brexiteer position since the British people voted to exit the bloc with a small margin.
Hard Brexit more likely under Johnson
In July 2018, he was one of several senior cabinet ministers who resigned one after another in protest of what they deemed as May’s pro-EU sentiments during negotiations with Brussels. Johnson accused May of leading the UK into a “semi-Brexit” that would land the country in the “status of a colony” in the EU.
BoJo, as he is called in the British media, has defended a no-deal Brexit if necessary, something that May strenuously tried to avoid at all costs, and even her premiership.
Despite accusations of elitism, the one-nation Conservative Johnson is a figure trying to reach to the working class, a voter base his pasty manages to contest with the Labour party led by the Marxist-oriented Jeremy Corbyn.
However, one of the challenges he faces is the lack of support from the party’s centrist establishment from where a ‘Stop Boris’ campaign has emerged.
There are chances there will be MPs resigning if he is elected leader. And even more dangerous for the UK’s survival, and a new level of enthusiasm in Scottish nationalism under Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who has repeatedly threatened a second independence referendum in case Brexit happens.
A no-deal or hard-deal Brexiteers coming to the helm of Britain, will also add to the flames of Irish Republicanism in Northern Ireland which came to be the heart of the Brexit crisis due to the border issue.
If Johnson, a man known for his gaffes and shambolic appearance, makes it to the Number 10, chances of a hard or no-deal Brexit will dramatically increase, an eventuality not only many in the UK but also EU countries such as France and Spain feared immediately after May’s resignation announcement.
Divisions within the UK and an even deeper discord with Brussels is likely to plunge the Pound further down that lost so much value since Britons decided to leave the EU with 51.9 percent of votes in favor on the fateful day of June 23, 2016.
A gloomy outlook, indeed, for the Pound and British economy.