UK LEADERSHIP AND KEY CONTENDERS
Compiled by Mike Burnard
Prime Minister Theresa May stepped down on Friday 7 June as leader of Britain’s Conservative Party after admitting failure in her attempt to withdraw the country from the European Union. She will remain as a “caretaker” Prime Minister for a few weeks while the party picks a successor. (Global News)
Why is Theresa May stepping down?
After 1,059 days in charge, Prime Minister Theresa May is stepping down as leader of the ruling Conservative Party mainly because she failed to complete her most important task: delivering Brexit.
BBC News reported the following: “UK voters had backed ending membership of the European Union, by 52% to 48%, in June 2016. Two and a half years later, a plan agreed by the UK and the EU was delivered, setting out how Brexit would happen. But some Conservative MPs felt it was a ‘bad deal’ and several of Mrs May’s ministers resigned. Attempts to get MPs to fall in line were all in vain and the Brexit deal was rejected on three separate occasions.”
Who will choose the next prime minister?
Britain’s next leader will be chosen by the 313 lawmakers and about 124,000 members of the Conservative Party.
Professor Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University in London, writes for BBC News: “It’s a two-stage process. The first sees votes among Conservative MPs designed to whittle the contenders down to just two front-runners. The second stage sees the party’s grassroots members choose between them in a postal ballot. In other words, it is members of the public – those who pay £25 a year to join the Conservative Party – who get the final say on who the next prime minister is. There will not be a general election because the party is already in power. We don’t know exactly how many Conservative Party members there are because – unlike the UK’s other parties – the Conservatives don’t regularly release the figures. The last time they did so was back in March 2018, when they put the figure at 124,000.”
This means that less than 0.2% of the population will be choosing the UK’s next prime minister.
When will the next prime minister be announced?
Canada’s Global News describes the process as follows:
“After hearing pitches from all the contenders early [in the week starting 10 June], Conservative lawmakers will vote by secret ballot on Thursday 13 June. Any candidates who don’t get at least five per cent have to drop out. Further rounds will be held on June 18, 19 and 20 if needed, with the least popular candidate eliminated each time.
“The final two candidates will meet in a runoff that will be decided by mail by the country’s Conservative Party members. The winner will be announced the week of July 22. The winner will become Britain’s prime minister — but it’s unclear for how long. The opposition Labour Party has said it could call a no-confidence vote in the government immediately, before Parliament breaks up for its summer recess at the end of July. If the government loses, Britain will be headed for a snap election within weeks.”
Who will run the UK until then?
Theresa May will stay on as prime minister in a ‘caretaker’ position until a replacement is found. The Express explains: “Even though [her resignation officially came into effect on 7 June], she won’t step down as prime minister until she is certain the person replacing her will ‘command the confidence of the House’. This could prove especially tricky if a divisive, hardline Brexiteer like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab wins the Tory [Conservative] leadership race. A controversial winner could fail to secure the support of soft Brexit or Remainer Tory MPs, or [Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party].”
Who are the candidates for the prime minister position?
The race has started with at least 11 contenders, and as many as 19, making it a crowded field. One in three party members are over 66 years of age and another 18% are over 56, with a large majority from the top social class. Four of the more controversial candidates are Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel.
Ben Kentish writes in The Independent: “The current bookies’ favourite is Boris Johnson. The former foreign secretary quit the government last summer in protest at Mrs May’s Brexit plan, winning him praise from Conservative Brexiteers. He is seen by some Tory MPs as the party’s best chance of winning a general election.” Johnson has a big and controversial personality, is a good friend of US president Donald Trump, and has clear public appeal.
Kentish continues: “Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has emerged as another strong candidate from the right of the party. He is reported to have signed up dozens of MPs to support him and has already given several high-profile interviews. Like Johnson, he is a vocal critic of Mrs May’s handling of Brexit and would be happy to leave the EU without a deal.”
Kentish writes of Sajid Javid: “Home secretary Sajid Javid emerged as another frontrunner early this year but was damaged by rising knife crime and his response to the migrant crisis. As the child of Pakistani immigrants and son of a bus driver, he has a compelling back story, and electing Britain’s first Bame prime minister would be an attractive proposition for many Tories.” A profile in Heightline.com says: “Javid was born in a family of seven and was raised in a two-bedroom flat above a shop in Bristol with his four brothers. His family’s heritage is Muslim but he is not practicing the religion. Sajid married Laura King [a Christian] in 1997.”
Priti Patel, one of the few Hindus in the UK government, is the MP for Witham. She was born in London and raised in South Harrow and Ruislip. Her Gujarati parents immigrated to the UK in the 1960s from Uganda, shortly before Ugandan president Idi Amin announced the expulsion of Ugandan Asians.
FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Matthew 6:33 says: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The Lord does not intend for His followers to be ignorant of the politics and economic situations of their time, but calls believers to seek His purposes FIRST and let all other considerations be subordinate to that.
The new leader of the UK – whether secular, Christian, Muslim or Hindu – will no doubt influence the future of this strategic nation. Theresa May understood this principle and sought a fine balance between being led by Christian values and serving in a very secular and unspiritual environment. When asked about her faith by Kirsty Young on BBC Radio in 2014, Mrs May said the following: “It [Christianity] is part of me. It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things… I think it’s right that we don’t sort of flaunt these things here in British politics, but it is a part of me, it’s there, and it obviously helps to frame my thinking.”
When looking at the future leadership of the UK, it is a Christian duty to pray for a leader who would base leadership on Christ-like values and policies on Biblical principles that would benefit souls, who will pursue peace, godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2) as well as justice and righteousness (Amos 5:24).
If, however, someone of a different faith background is appointed, believers can rest assured that God will be working out His plan in that appointment, and can pray in faith that God will work in and through him or her for His Kingdom purposes in the UK and beyond.
- For wisdom for those involved in selecting the next prime minister
- For a breakthrough in the political stalemate in the UK
- For the UK’s Christian heritage to remain foundational in their policies