The stage is set for a change of personalities at the top of the Brexit imbroglio facing the UK, with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson tipped to win the election for the new Conservative leader on Tuesday and take over as the next British prime minister on Wednesday.
The Brexit challenges that led to the ouster of outgoing PM Theresa May remain. There is also no change in the arithmetic in the House of Commons, where the minority Conservative government has been in power since 2017 with support from the Democratic Unionist Party.
Already, there is buzz in Westminster that a Johnson government would mark the return of Priti Patel to the cabinet, besides promotions for junior ministers Alok Sharma and Rishi Sunak – the son-in-law of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy.
Johnson’s widely expected win against foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt appeared to widen Brexit-related divisions within the party, sparking a spate of symbolic resignations by ministers in the May government in protest against his taking over as the next PM.
Those opposed to Johnson for a variety of reasons have announced their intention to resign.
Foreign office minister Alan Duncan resigned on Monday, with leading lights such as chancellor Philip Hammond and justice secretary David Gauke declaring their intention to step down if Johnson is declared the winner on Tuesday.
The stated reason behind the opposition to Johnson is his promise to leave the EU by October 31 “with or without a deal”.
Bookies and opinion polls have predicted overwhelming support for Johnson from the 1.6 lakh members of the Conservative party, who had until Monday evening to cast their votes.
Also electing a new leader is the Liberal Democrats party, which was a coalition partner in the David Cameron government (2010-2015. Jo Swinson, 39, MP from East Dunbartonshire in Scotland, was on Monday declared elected leader, the first woman in the party’s history.