Tories vote for Cameron’s replacement

July 06, 2016 02:30 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:01 pm IST - LONDON:

Home Secretary Theresa May is one of the key candidates as she has the highest support from Conservative MPs backing her.

Home Secretary Theresa May is one of the key candidates as she has the highest support from Conservative MPs backing her.

The post-Brexit political churn in Britain has seen a Prime Minister resign, two prominent leaders of the ‘Leave’ camp step aside, a lot of backroom political manoeuvring in leadership contests in both the Conservative and Labour parties, and the distinct possibility of a ‘Remain’ Prime Minister from the Conservative party replacing the incumbent Prime Minister. Theresa May is an MP who is more hard-line than even her party counterparts from the ‘Leave’ camp on the issue of European migrants. In all this, Brexit appears a long way off.

Anti-immigrant tilt

Nigel Farage, the outspoken leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the face of euroscepticism in the >U.K., stepped down as leader of his party . The UKIP had given the referendum campaign its anti-immigrant and, sometimes, overtly racist slant, injecting poison into the debate that critics say is responsible for the post-referendum surge in hate crimes against minorities.

On Tuesday, the process of selecting a new Conservative party leader to replace David Cameron as the Prime Minister had begun.

Candidates in the Conservative party leadership contest (from left) Stephen Crabb, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox, Theresa May and Michael Gove. Photo: Reuters

The first step involves parliamentary hustings at which the contenders can make their case for leadership.

The five candidates include two from the ‘Remain’ Camp — Home Secretary Theresa May and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb. The other three — Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom; Justice Secretary Michael Gove; and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox — are from the ‘Leave’ camp.

Ms. May has the highest support among the five with 132 out of the 330 Conservative MPs backing her.

Stance on EU nationals

Ms. May is believed to have said that the position of the EU nationals already present in the U.K. would be decided in negotiations with the EU. In other words, she is not prepared to assure their continued stay.

Ms. Leadsom has 42 declared supporters, including former London Mayor Boris Johnson, and has promised to activate the Brexit process as soon as she is elected. She supports a continued stay of EU nationals — those already living and working here. Mr. Gove has said that if elected, he would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty only after extensive negotiations. He has pledged to introduce an Australian-style points system to bring the immigration figures down.

Stephen Crabb has promised not to use EU citizens as a “bargaining chip” in the negotiations, assuring them that they would be allowed to stay. He does not support open borders, but is keen that the U.K. be allowed access to the EU single market.

Liam Fox’s position is that access to the single market is not an option that he will pursue if it entails the free movement of people. He has also said that he would trigger Article 50 on January 1, 2019.

Conservative Party’s backbenchers constitute its 1922 committee that will oversee party elections. A series of secret ballots will be held every Tuesday and Friday with MPs with the least support being eliminated, narrowing the field down to just two candidates.

A final vote by the entire membership of the party will then determine who between the final two contenders becomes the next Conservtive party leader, and the next Prime Minister.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.