The voting window to decide Britain's next prime minister will close today after a month-long contest between Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former London mayor Boris Johnson, with Johnson expected to be announced as the 77th British PM.
This is the first time in history when the officeholder will be elected by the Conservative party membership rather than MPs or the wider electorate. As many as 160,000 Tory members drawn from the 46.8 million eligible voters of the general elections are slated to take part in a Tory leadership contest which also determines the next prime minister.
The result will be announced on Tuesday and the winner will immediately become the new Conservative leader and the next British prime minister, succeeding Theresa May.
An online poll of around 1200 members conducted by the Conservative Home website put Johnson on 73 percent while bookmakers revealed that Hunt's chances of winning stand at 6.67 percent.
Theresa May will address the parliament as prime minister for the last time at midday (1100 GMT) on Wednesday before proceeding to the Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to the Queen. The head of state will then invite the new Conservative leader to form an administration.
Boris Johnson: The next PM?
Boris Johnson served as the Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 and has been a Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. From 2016 to 2018, Johnson served as the foreign secretary. Identifying as a one-nation conservative, he has been associated with socially and economically liberal policies throughout his political career.
After graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Classics, he worked as a journalist for
The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator.
Johnson has made one major promise to his supporters: he vows to take Britain out of the European Union on October 31, with or without a divorce deal. Opponents of this idea have already begun to display their criticism. Conservative politician Philip Hammond has announced that he will resign if Johnson wins the election, saying that a no-deal Brexit would never win his support. Additionally, Justice Secretary David Gauke declared that he would quit the government if Johnson became prime minister.
Johnson believes that the key to winning the Parliament’s backing for a Brexit deal is to ditch the ‘backstop’: an insurance policy designed to guarantee that the UK’s only land border with the EU — between Northern Ireland and Ireland — remains free of customs posts and other obstacles. However, the EU vehemently believes that there can be no deal without the backstop.
Further challenges await the next prime minister as the opposition Labour Party is considering calling a no-confidence vote in the Conservative government on Thursday.
Jeremy Hunt: The likely loser
Jeremy Hunt has been serving as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 2018 while he previously held the seat as a Member of Parliament for South West Surrey. Like his opponent, Hunt graduated from Oxford, while later trying his hand at different entrepreneurial business ventures including three failed start-ups.
Identifying as a born-again Brexiteer, Hunt voted for Britain to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. He has published a 10-point Brexit delivery plan that consists of preparing for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, including a ‘no deal’ Cabinet task force. However, he has steered clear of the ‘do-or-die’ stance advocated by Johnson and sees leaving the EU without an exit deal as a measure of extreme last resort.
This is believed to be the fundamental reason why he is expected to lose against Johnson as the majority of Conservative party members rigorously favour a no-deal Brexit, despite the fact that the majority of the British public opposes this stance.If Johnson wins with more than a 60 percent majority, it is believed that he will sack Hunt from his position as the foreign secretary, offering him a less important Cabinet job such as business secretary.