'Relative calm' in British caretaker gov't amid Tory leader race, says expert

World Sunday 10/July/2022 19:38 PM
'Relative calm' in British caretaker gov't amid Tory leader race, says expert

London: As more candidates have announced their leadership bids to replace Boris Johnson as Britain's new prime minister, a period of "relative calm" is expected in the British caretaker government, a political expert told Xinhua.

"What's really going to happen is that there will be a period of relative calm in British politics, during which there will be a caretaker government taking over, rather than doing anything imaginative or original," Professor Iain Begg from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) told Xinhua in an interview on Saturday.

Johnson resigned on Thursday following a dramatic cabinet revolt over his scandal-hit leadership, but he will stay on as caretaker prime minister until a new Tory leader is elected.

On Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced their candidacy, taking the total number of contenders to eight. About ten others are expected to join the race, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

"What we can expect is that for the next two to three months, many initiatives of government will be put on hold because Boris Johnson is staying in power as Prime Minister, but he's not really going to have much capacity to do anything that requires major initiatives or taking the government of the economy in different directions," Begg said.

The process of choosing a new leader will start with Conservative MPs voting for the names put forward. They will gradually eliminate those with the lowest votes until there are just two names in the frame. It will then be up to the 200,000 members of the Conservative Party to decide which of those two should become the party's new leader. The winner will automatically become the new prime minister.

The Conservative Party's backbench 1922 Committee will set out the rules and timetable for the leadership contest next week, but there have been reports that it plans to speed up the contest process by reducing the slate of contenders. It will increase the number of supporters the hopeful runners must receive from their colleagues, and will also increase the threshold of votes candidates must receive to progress to the next round.

Begg expects a quick return to normalcy once a new Tory leader emerges and succeeds Johnson as the new prime minister.
"It's likely that things will settle down fairly quickly," he said, adding "What I would expect is to see government continuing. In one sense, there will be a lot of continuity in things like foreign policy, but maybe some changes in the approach to the economy, the approach to certain aspects of social policy and so on."

"I think it will be more or less business as usual once this period of selecting a new leader is completed," he noted.