No sooner had Prime Minister Boris Johnson submitted his resignation Thursday morning than right-of-center activists in the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party began planning an all-out effort to seize the party leadership for the first time since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister and party leader three decades ago.
Two members of Parliament considered favorites of the right — former Housing Minister Esther McVey and current Attorney General Suella Braverman — already are considered sure to enter the race for Conservative leader (the winner of which will automatically succeed Johnson as prime minister).
McVey, 55, and Braverman, 42, were strong backers of Brexit and hardliners on illegal immigration.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, another favorite of the right, is also reportedly interested in the leadership race. But Patel, 50, has also been criticized for failing to show more results in dealing with the illegal immigration crisis in the U.K.
According to several sources in the party who spoke to Newsmax, the right-of-center activists hope to change the rules to a direct U.S.-style primary. Under the present rules, the Conservative members of the House of Commons vote on prospective candidates for leader until the list is down to two. The card-carrying members of the party then choose between the two, with the winner (the candidate with a majority) becoming leader.
"The greater, say, the members have, the greater chance of a genuine conservative winning," Bow Group Chair Ben Harris-Quinney, whose group is the oldest British conservative organization, told Newsmax.
Quinney said that "because the rules of leadership elections are much more flexible than in America, they tend to be different each time. This time we are calling for a full primary before the membership to ensure a strong mandate.
In a modern democracy of 65 million people, it simply isn't defensible to have two of the last four prime ministers [Theresa May and Johnson] selected by a tiny group of establishment political figures behind closed doors."
The Conservative Party is expected to announce its rules for selecting a new leader as early as next week.
When the rules are in place, a crowded field is expected to jump in the leadership race. Among those mentioned are Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (whose resignation on Tuesday helped bring down Johnson), and former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt.
All are considered "establishment" Conservatives in the mold of Johnson and former Prime Ministers May and David Cameron.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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