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Who Could Replace Boris Johnson If He Doesn’t Survive Partygate?

Boris Johnson
22/09/2020. London, United Kingdom. Boris Johnson address to the Nation during Covid-19. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the White Room of No10 Downing Street, addressing the Nation on Covid-19. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized on Monday for his role in a scandal known as “Partygate.”

The leader of the Conservative Party and the United Kingdom was caught attending private Downing Street “work” parties during the height of the pandemic in 2020, with photographs showing Johnson and his wife Carrie drinking wine in the back garden of his official residence.

After Sue Gray, a top civil servant from the Cabinet Office, published the interim findings of an investigation into the multiple private parties, the prime minister owned up.

“I get it and I will fix it,” he said in Parliament this week.

Boris Johnson: Will He Resign?

It depends. So far, the prime minister has refused to commit to resigning from his position as party leader – and therefore as prime minister – if an ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation into the matter finds that he broke the law.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that the events being investigated include two parties that the prime minister admits to having attended. One took place in the garden on May 20, and the other was a private birthday celebration thrown for him in the Cabinet meeting room.

In British politics, it is typically expected for a prime minister to resign as leader of the party in a scandal that causes such widespread controversy – but Johnson appears to be bucking that trend.

The prime minister has so far maintained the support of many big figures in his party, while polls show that 62% of British voters think the prime minister should resign. 44% of Conservative Party voters also said he should go, and according to the same Opinium Research survey, some 58% of voters think that the Conservative Party will head into the next general election with a new leader.

Member of Parliament and Leader of the house of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg theorized that Johnson is likely to remain prime minister because of the thumping majority of 80 seats he won in the last election.

“So many people voted personally for Boris Johnson rather than voting for political parties,” Rees-Mogg said on the possibility of a resignation.

“Politicians have to accept that our bosses are the British people, and they voted for that, they put him in office.”

Most Likely Contenders

If Boris Johnson doesn’t resign, a leadership contest can be triggered if 15% of Conservative members of Parliament write to the chair of the 1922 Committee and express their lack of confidence in him. It would prompt a vote of no confidence, and if more than 50 MPs don’t back the leader then Johnson is out and a leadership race is triggered.

With 360 Conservative MPs in the Commons, 54 letters to the 1922 Committee would be required.

And should this happen, British bookmaker Betfair has the betting odds on which Conservative member of Parliament would most likely stand for leadership and win.

  • Rishi Sunak 13/5 – Current Chancellor of the Exchequer and a popular face during COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • Liz Truss 5/1 – Former advocate of remaining in the European Union, Truss is the British Foreign Secretary and played a huge roll in post-Brexit trade deals.
  • Jeremy Hunt 6/1 – Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
  • Tom Tugendhat 9/1 – Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of Parliament since 2015.
  • Penny Mordaunt 10/1 – Minister of State for Trade Policy and a popular candidate among strong-border conservatives.
  • Sajid Javid 14/1 – Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • Michael Gove 14/1 – A former journalist and current Secretary of State for Levelling Up – a position that focuses on Johnson’s plans to “level up” regional economies in the UK.
  • Nadhim Zahawi 20/1 – Secretary of State for Education.
  • Dominic Raab 25/1 – Deputy Prime Minister and former Brexit Secretary

Whatever candidate wins, whether it is one of the above prospective candidates or otherwise, would be appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as the Conservative Party holds a majority in Parliament.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

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