A switch in the prime minister of the UK aimed to break the Brexit impasse that has dominated politics in this country for the past year. Out with a remainer Prime Minister, in with a Brexiteer. Theresa May struggled to get a deal with the EU and when she did finally manage to negotiate one, it was rejected by Parliament multiple times.
Despite May’s resilience and dedication to public service, she had no other choice but to resign as Prime Minister. Her position had become untenable and had lost all of Parliament’s support, even from her own Party.
Boris Johnson was a popular choice in both the MP ballots and with Conservative Party members. She comfortably beat Jeremy Hunt to take the United Kingdom’s top job. With Johnson nearly two months in to his premiership, can we say that the Tories are better off with him in charge, as opposed to Theresa May?
Although Theresa May’s time as PM was criticised, there was no doubt that she was always committed to getting a deal. Even the pro-remain SNP have to take notice of that, with Johnson’s threat of leaving on the 31st October with or without a deal. Even the Labour Party, who have drastically changed their stance on Brexit, were previously committed to ‘respecting the will of the people’ and leaving the EU with a deal.
Even though the two main Brexit policies were different, May was very reluctant to leave the EU without a deal, just like Labour. She must have been respected more in Parliament by opposition parties for taking this approach as opposed to what Johnson is now trying to do. However, this reluctancy to opt for no-deal may have been her downfall in the Tory Party. The now-Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg was just one of many Conservative MPs who publicly criticised the former PM for her Brexit strategy.
Boris Johnson’s current strategy of attempting to leave with or without a deal on Halloween could pay dividends for the current PM in the next general election. The Brexit Party have been a major threat to the Conservatives and completely decimated them in the European Parliament elections earlier on this year.
If the Tories can get Brexit over the line to push the Brexit Party aside, this gives them a higher chance of winning a majority in the next election. The Labour Party is at risk of losing a lot of Brexiteer voters to the right-wing parties (including the Conservatives) and others who have become disillusioned with Corbyn and have instead decided that they may vote for the Liberal Democrats. Johnson has the chance to capitalise on this in a future election.
However, the Johnson’s early days as Prime Minister have been a bumpy ride. Proroguing parliament has left him as a very unpopular figure. He’s come under fire for this and this hasn’t been his only issue so far. Several Tory MPs have been expelled from the party for voting against the government. The threat was presented as a deterrent for those who wanted to vote for a bill that may block the UK from leaving without a deal next month.
This threat did not work and a number of Tory politicians proceeded to vote against Johnson. Some of these MPs have been great servants of the Conservative Party, including former Chancellor Phillip Hammond. Former Justice Secretary David Gauke was another senior member who was expelled. This may be a decision that Boris Johnson regrets, with some of those expelled from the party being well-respected MPs in their constituencies.
One of the most damaging issues that the new government has had to content with is the resignation of Amber Rudd. Her comments about the lack of effort being put in to getting a deal must have a big blow, after Johnson kept Rudd in the cabinet from Theresa May’s tenure. The Conservative Party needed someone to unite them. Has Boris Johnson done that? Not so far. Tories will be hoping that he can rectify this, as well as unite the whole country in the process.
The fact that austerity is seemingly on its way out could benefit Boris Johnson as he looks to invest a lot more money in to the public sector. His opening speech in Downing Street where he talked about investment in schools, police and the NHS will only help with getting voters on his side. If he can unite the country again after the 2016 vote, he could win a majority in the next election. However, this seems like a long way off as of yet.
There’s no Boris Johnson has had a rough time so far as Prime Minister. If he can ride this wave, deliver Brexit and fulfil his promises on domestic policies, the Conservative Party’s long term future could be very bright.