160,000 Conservative Party members went to the polls to elect Theresa May’s successor; Boris Johnson was always considered the favourite. On Tuesday, Johnson was pronounced the winner of the Conservative leadership race by 92,153 votes to Jeremy Hunt‘s 46,656.
In his victory speech, Mr Johnson promised he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.”.
- Mrs May congratulated Mr Johnson, promising him her “full support from the backbenches.” Johnson will be pronounced prime minister on Wednesday, with May ready to submit her resignation to the Queen in the afternoon. Johnson is expected to have an audience with the Queen immediately afterwards.
At the heart of the political debate during the race to leadership was Brexit. After the outgoing prime minister failed three times to pass the negotiated agreement through parliament, the party appears to be heading towards a no-deal Brexit.
Both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson were committed to a “no-deal” Brexit, although Hunt had said he was ready to delay the UK’s exit from the EU if he thought there was a real chance of a compromise. The former Mayor of London has made clear that leaving on October 31 is a “do or die” challenge that he is willing to carry through with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Rory Stewart have said they will not serve in a cabinet heading for a no-deal Brexit. Deputy foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan resigned preemptively on Monday, submitting a motion for Johnson to pass the test of confidence motion in parliament before getting the mandate to form a government by the Queen. His motion was rejected by the Commons Speaker John Bercow.
Onn Monday the Liberals elected their own new leader, whose mandate lies on the opposite side of the political spectrum. With a clear mandate to oppose Brexit, Jo Swinson is considered a step to the right for the party, as she served in Cameron’s coalition government, leading fiscal consolidation measures in education.
Ms Swinson has been the party’s deputy leader for two years and champions a second referendum on EU membership. The party now has 12 MPs and won 20% of the vote share in the European elections. Most polling suggests that the UK electoral is now on a four-way election split between the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberals, and the Brexit party.