Ireland

What can the new British prime minister expect in the coming days?

THE NEW CONSERVATIVE Party leader, and therefore British prime minister, is due to be announced next week.

Despite accusations of spreading misinformation and seemingly not being up to speed on trade regulations, Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to replace Theresa May.  

He and Jeremy Hunt, who succeeded Johnson as Foreign Secretary, are the two remaining candidates. They were chosen from a field of 10 after a series of votes by the Conservative Party’s 313 MPs. 

The party’s 160,000 members have had the opportunity to cast their votes on their preferred new leader in recent weeks ahead of a deadline this Monday, 22 July.

The plan is for May’s successor to be announced on Tuesday. May is expected to answer her final prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday before officially handing in her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II later that day. 

Given the looming Brexit deadline of 31 October, the new leader is not expected to enjoy any type of honeymoon period. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party could call an immediate vote of confidence in the new prime minister once they take up the role.

This would have to happen by Thursday when parliament is due to begin its summer break, or wait until MPs return on 3 September.

Chancellor Philip Hammond yesterday suggested he may vote against the new prime minister in a bid to stop a no-deal Brexit. When asked if he would back a motion of no-confidence in the government, Hammond said he could “not exclude anything”.

Some Conservative Tory MPs are pushing to introduce new rules to protect the new prime minister from such a vote, according to Sky News.

During the week, MPs in Westminster backed a bid to stop the prime minister from suspending parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit. On Thursday 315 MPs voted in favour of the amendment, while 274 voted against it. 

Hunt has ruled out suspending parliament if he is voted in as leader, but Johnson has not.

Brexit deadline 

The Conservatives do not have a majority in the House of Commons, but govern through an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party.

May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament, faced with opposition from both Conservative MPs and the DUP.

Many politicians have raised concerns about the backstop element of the Withdrawal Agreement, which aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules.

The DUP, which campaigned in favour of Brexit, believes the backstop threatens the UK and could lead to a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The new Prime Minister is expected to attend the G7 summit in Biarritz in France from 25-27 August. They are also due to attend a European Union summit on 17 and 18 October if Britain is still in the bloc at that stage. 

Barring a third postponement or an earlier departure, Britain is due to leave the EU on 31 October. Plans are being made at British, Irish and European levels in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Contains reporting from © – AFP 2019

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