FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his visit to EDF's Sizewell B Nuclear power station, in Sizewell, Britain September 1, 2022. Chris Radburn/Pool via REUTERS

Several British lawmakers, including scandal-tarnished former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are vying for support Friday to become the country’s next leader following the implosion of Liz Truss’ historically short-lived government.
The governing Conservative Party has ordered a lightning-fast race that aims to have a new prime minister in place within a week at a time when Britain can ill afford uncertainty at the top. Millions are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of groceries, fuel and other basics soars and record inflation pushes up mortgage rates. Rolling strikes have revealed the scale of discontent. And a recession is looming.
Though no politician has officially declared, bookmakers have made Johnson one of the favorites to win the contest — reflecting the scale of division and disarray in the party as it picks its third prime minister of the year. It would be an astonishing comeback for a polarizing figure forced out just over three months ago amid a welter of ethics scandals.
Truss quit on Thursday after a turbulent 45-day term, conceding that she could not deliver on her tax-cutting economic package, which she had to abandon after it caused turmoil in financial markets.
In the race to replace her, former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt are among the favorites — along with Johnson, who still faces an inquiry into whether he lied to Parliament while in office that could lead to his suspension as a lawmaker.
Despite his troubles, Johnson is still adored by some Conservatives as a vote winner with a rare common touch who led the party to a big election victory in 2019. He is more popular with the party’s grassroots than with lawmakers — and he is reviled by some for the chaos and scandal that marred his term in office.
“Having a winner in place is what the party needs to survive,” Johnson ally Nadine Dorries told Sky News.
But former Conservative leader Michael Howard implored the party not to return to the “psychodrama” of the Johnson era.
“He’s had his chance, and it didn’t work,” Howard said. Some Conservative legislators have even threatened to leave the party if Johnson returns as leader.
Rob Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester, said Conservatives who thought Johnson could solve their problems “don’t live in a reality-based community.”

Share On Social Media