Place your bets on the next boss of the UK!
Is it all over for May? As the resignations pour in and calls for a vote of no confidence grow, The Day weighs up the contenders who could replace her. Here are their routes to No 10.
1/ Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader needs a general election, but how? It is likely that Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be defeated when MPs vote on it in December. This would allow Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence against the government.
If a majority of MPs back him, May falls and an election could ensue. However, so many Tories fear giving Labour a clean shot at power, she would probably scrape through. And if she lost, he would still have to win a general election.
2/ Boris Johnson. If May resigns, or if she loses a no-confidence vote among her own MPs, a leadership election would be triggered and a new prime minister installed.
Boris Johnson desperately wants the job, and he is popular with the party members who get the final vote. But he is less popular with his own MPs — and they are the ones who decide the final two on the ballot. Many vow that it will never be Boris.
3/ Jacob Rees-Mogg. The “honourable member for the 18th century” is a potential rival for Boris. He too is popular with Tory members, although he has never had a big job in government which makes him an outsider.
Yesterday, Rees-Mogg called a major press conference to push for a no-confidence vote in May, but he insists he does not want the top job. Should we believe him?
4/ Dominic Raab. He may not be the most familiar name here, but yesterday the Brexit secretary’s resignation sparked a domino effect that plunged May into new depths of crisis. Raab is a black belt in karate and his decisive action has made him popular with Brexiteers, marking him out as a potential leadership contender.
5/ Theresa May. For all the whirlwind speculation of the last 48 hours, the sequence of events that would put any challenger in Downing Street is littered with obstacles.
At a press conference last night, May pledged, “I am going to see this through,” and said she believes in her Brexit plan “with every fibre of [her] being”. The prime minister does not like giving up, and she could still fight on. Will she make it?
Yes, say some. She is not a quitter, and a general election is unlikely. Plus, no one would seriously want to replace her at this crucial stage in Brexit as they would end up taking all of the blame if it goes wrong. It would not make any sense to change the prime minister now — she will cling on, at least until after the UK leaves in March.
No, say others. May’s luck is running out. It only takes 48 Conservative MPs to trigger a leadership election. So far, around 15 MPs have sent the letters needed to do this, but the real number is probably much higher. It could happen in days, and when it does, things could quickly turn against her — and that is just one of the factions trying to oust her.
- Who will be prime minister at Christmas?
- Should there be a second referendum on Brexit?
- Think of two other people who could possibly be the next prime minister. Give them their own odds, nicknames, and write a short description like the ones above.
- The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, resigned from government yesterday. Read her full resignation letter and write answers to the following questions: What is the tone of her letter, and how can you judge this from the language she uses? What, in bullet points, are her main reasons for opposing May’s Brexit deal?
Some People Say...
“Being prime minister is a lonely job... you cannot lead from the crowd.”Margaret Thatcher
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- After months of negotiations, Theresa May finally secured a draft deal with the EU this week. She presented it to the Cabinet on Wednesday, who initially backed the agreement. But then, two Cabinet ministers (including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab) resigned yesterday morning, sparking fresh speculation about May’s position and her plan for Brexit.
- What do we not know?
- What will happen to Brexit now. MPs will likely vote against May’s Brexit deal in December, which makes a no-deal scenario more likely. And the chaos will amplify Remainer calls for a second referendum. Even if the deal is passed, all EU members would have to agree to it. Time is running out — who knows where we’ll be in March?
- Brexit deal
- After more than a year of negotiations, the UK and EU agreed a draft withdrawal deal earlier this week. It covers issues relating to Britain’s exit from the EU, not the future relationship. So far it is very unpopular with MPs, and several members of the Cabinet resigned in protest yesterday.
- No-confidence vote
- This is different from the vote of no confidence in the government that Corbyn could mount. Here, if 48 Tory MPs write letters saying they have no confidence in May as a leader, the party will hold an internal no-confidence vote on her role. If she loses, a leadership contest would be triggered.
- 18th century
- A popular nickname for Rees-Mogg, who has a reputation for being extremely traditional and stereotypically upper class. He is also a controversial figure due to his personal opposition to abortion, which he says is rooted in his Catholic faith.
- Domino effect
- The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, resigned just an hour after Raab, while a number of more junior ministers and party officials resigned throughout the day.