Among the many consequences of Britain’s Brexit vote was Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation. He announced his intent to step down and allow a new leader to take control of Britain as it negotiates its departure from the European Union.
Rabat – Former mayor of London Boris Johnson was widely expected to take his place. As a pivotal member of the Leave vote, Johnson celebrated the UK’s decision, going so far as to say that June 23rd’s vote marked Britain’s Independence Day. However, in the chaotic aftermath of the referendum, it became clear that the Leave campaign was not as unified as they had seemed. In a speech this morning, Johnson announced that he would not be running for Prime Minister.
This decision is particularly surprising since Johnson appeared to have won. His Leave campaign was doubted by political analysts and common voters alike, but he achieved a surprising and monumental victory. The reality, of course, is far more complex. What his campaign had painted as a glowing image of democracy and independence has now been tarnished by plummeting stocks, devalued currency, and outbursts of xenophobia. While the first two have improved somewhat since the initial drop, racist and nationalist verbal and physical assaults have only increased.
Instead of Johnson, Michael Gove and Theresa May have taken up the mantle. Justice Secretary Gove was another important Leave campaigner who announced his candidacy this morning. He had previously been expected to endorse Johnson. In Gove’s own words, he came “to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” Boris Johnson’s announcement came after Gove’s speech.
Gove claimed that he has never wanted to be Prime Minister of the UK, but “events since last Thursday have weighed heavily” with him, and prompted a change of heart. He has already secured the endorsement of fellow justice minister Dominic Raab. Gove portrayed himself as an anti-establishment candidate, saying that “If we are to make the most of the opportunities ahead we need a bold break with the past.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has also announced her candidacy. Although a fellow Conservative, she advocated to Remain. In a press release, she acknowledged the UK’s decision and her commitment to executing it, saying “Brexit means Brexit.” May also drew attention to the differences between herself and establishment politicians, saying that instead of running for “glory” or “ideological fervor,” she runs to honor her family’s tradition of public service. Portraying herself as an administrator rather than a politician, she described her work ethic by saying: “I just get on with the job in front of me.”
May is an experienced minister with years in the system, and many favor her to win. She advocates waiting before activating Article 50, the clause that would give the UK a two-year time limit to complete exit negotiations with the EU.
Other Conservative candidates includeWork and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, andministers Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox. The race is set to be determined by September 9th. The new Conservative leader will stand poised to becomethe next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and oversee Brexit negotiations.