Who Can Succeed Boris Johnson As British PM?

by Nishtha Anushree - Jul 8, 2022 11:33 AM +05:30 IST
Who Can Succeed Boris Johnson As British PM?Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid

After Boris Johnson's resignation, six names are making the rounds as his likely successor to be the British prime minister.

Liz Truss: The incumbent Foreign Secretary enjoys considerable popularity among Conservative rank and file, and is liked for her outspokenness.

  • Truss is identified with the small-state, liberal ideological strand, but her demand for a bigger Foreign Office budget and enhanced defence spending have blotted her 'small government' credentials.

  • She has faced some criticism for advocating that the UK should get involved militarily in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and for her frequent social media posts.

Nadhim Zahawi: The Kurdish immigrant is said to have a role in Johnson's ouster. Before entering politics, he co-founded the influential polling company YouGov.

  • Zahawi earned plaudits for managing a successful vaccination campaign and helped partially dissipate the massive discontent against the Johnson government over its alleged bungled response to the pandemic.

  • He is also seen as acceptable by the 'small state, less tax' wing of the party, but his immense private wealth and the controversy surrounding his parliamentary expense claim for heating his horse stables could work against him.

Sajid Javid: He is the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who became an investment banker before he switched to politics.

  • Javid quit as the Health Secretary to oppose Johnson and is expected to make a third attempt for Conservative party leadership.

  • He has the experience of leading various ministries and could gain as someone who has resigned twice in protest at PM Johnson's conduct. However, he will face stiff resistance from Johnson loyalists.

Rishi Sunak: The son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy, Sunak briefly worked for Goldman Sachs and was first elected to the British Parliament from Richmond (Yorks) in 2015.

  • He quit as the Chancellor of the Exchequer after a withering resignation letter to PM Johnson. He expressed disappointment with his boss' handling of economic policy through the difficult post-pandemic times.

  • He is widely viewed as the only challenger in the race likely to put forth a coherent economic plan to deal with Britain's cost-of-living crisis.

  • Questions over private wealth and family's tax arrangements dented Sunak's prospects. His economic record also does not sit well with a section of Tory MPs and party members.

Penny Mordaunt: Mordaunt is the first woman to have been UK defence secretary and is currently a junior trade minister.

  • A staunch Brexiteer and pivotal figure in the 2016 "Leave" campaign, she may emerge as a potential unity candidate who could draw support from the Conservative party's warring factions.

Tom Tugendhat: He chairs the Parliament's influential Foreign Affairs Committee, and has used the position to build considerable mindshare among party MPs and supporters.

  • He campaigned against Johnson's candidature in 2019 and is likely to stake a claim to party leadership. But he could face resistance from Johnson loyalists.

  • A hawk on China, Tugendhat has also been critical of the government's handling of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Several other candidates, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and Attorney General Suella Braverman, are also likely to enter the fray.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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