With the stepping down of Prime Minister Theresa May as Conservative Party leader on June 7, the contest for the most important post in the United Kingdom has become increasingly fierce in recent days.
Among the 11 British politicians who have shown a desire to run for the vacancy, 10 had met the preliminary condition of getting support from at least eight members of the Parliament (MPs) by the cutoff date for submissions on June 10. However, Sam Gyimah, the 11th racer, failed to reach the standard and announced his exit from the race. After the first round of voting Thursday narrowed the field of candidates to seven, one quit the race, leaving six candidates now contending for the job.
By analyzing the resumes of the candidates, we found that most of them have abundant political experience, special expertise and diversified backgrounds, and every racer has his or her secret weapons for luring support.
Boris Johnson is regarded a favorite for the premiership. The journalist-turned politician once served as mayor of London and secretary of foreign affairs of the country, and is known as a sophisticated political figure who is determined to exit from the European Union (EU). Due to his stubborn attitude on Brexit, he is dubbed by media as “Trump on the Thames.”
Being famous has a high price, especially when the famous person wants to further pursue a political career. Johnson is reportedly appealing against summons in court to answer claims he committed misconduct in public office in 2016. Johnson has reportedly instructed his lawyers to argue that the summons issued by District Judge Margot Coleman on May 29 was unlawful and that criminal proceedings against him should be suspended. Long viewed as the top favorite, Johnson has kept a low profile lately, apart from proposing to cut taxes for 3 million high-income earners.
Jeremy Hunt is also a candidate who cannot be ignored. Hunt was appointed as foreign secretary in July 2018 after Johnson, his predecessor, resigned. Before the appointment, Hunt had served as health minister of Britain for about five and a half years. Hunt is married to Lucia Guo, who is from Shaanxi Province in China, where the couple had a traditional Chinese wedding. Hunt recently launched his campaign website, and alongside it an introductory video, focusing heavily on his entrepreneurial and diversified family backgrounds. Hunt has constructed a compelling story for building a low-tax Britain after Brexit, but is still stuck in a direct battle with other candidates to secure more support from the MPs.
British people have shown their tolerance and compatibility to the mistakes of those politicians. Environmental Secretary Michal Gove is still maintaining a strong campaign despite his earlier admission that he had previously taken cocaine. In his launch speech, Gove promised to look after overlooked families and underprivileged communities.
Sajid Javid’s story is encouraging. His father is an immigrant from Pakistan and works as a bus driver in the U.K. If Javid succeeds, he will become the first U.K. prime minster of Asian origin. Javid was appointed home secretary in April 2018. Before that, he once served as secretary of housing, communities and local government and secretary of culture, media and sport. Javid is also an excellent financial expert. He became a vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank at the age of 25, and later transferred to Deutsche Bank in London to help build its businesses in emerging countries.
Another candidate Mark Harper’s experience is even more encouraging. Different from other candidates, who got their diplomas from elite universities such as Cambridge, Oxford and LSE, Harper got his college certificate by adult education. Despite the fact that Harper was not even in the Cabinet when Brexit was being negotiated, he has accumulated rich political expertise. Harper stepped down as secretary of immigration in 2014 when it turned out that his house cleaner did not have a valid visa. He then served as secretary of disabilities for less than a year.
May is still carrying on governing the country and fulfilling duties until a successor is chosen. The Conservative leadership contest officially began on June 10 and only two candidates will be left by June 22. The final result of the contest will be released on July 22 and the last winner will take the place of May as the leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister of Britain.
Let’s wait and see who will laugh last and be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)