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Bye Bye Boris, Who Will Fill His Shoes?

On the 7th of July, Boris Johnson announced that he was stepping down from office. This comes after a rebellion of his cabinet and an extensive number of his ministers resigning from their posts. He previously survived a vote of no confidence in June of 2022, but it was believed that he would not escape a second one as easily. 


During his time in office, he had to negotiate Brexit deals and react to the Covid 19 pandemic. However, he incited his downfall through the lies and scandals that took place while he governed.


The juxtaposition between his early days in parliament and the high hopes that were attributed to him due to his biggest conservative election victory since 1987, now presents a sad contrast to his departure from this position, which is filled with mockery. 


The former prime minister started causing a stir within the government through several scandals that took place during the two and a half years of his time in office. The Chris Pincher affair saw corruption at the heart of parliament when Mr Johnson was fully aware, according to the Independent, of Mr Pinchers' sexual assault of two male guests. To begin with, Mr Johnson stated that he was not aware of the complaints against his minister, however, this was later retracted. There was also a lack of focus and ideas coming from Mr Johnson, and he was criticised by his previous ex-advisor Dominic Cummings for being an “out of control shopping trolly.


Adding fuel to the fire, Partygate was potentially the most serious assault on the British public at the time of tough restrictions that included individuals not being able to attend the funeral of a loved one. Mr Johnson broke lockdown rules as he attended multiple gatherings and parties, some held at number 10, which he denied occurred, then later admitted to. 


Moreover, the sudden rise in inflation that the country has been experiencing was not made easier by Mr Johnson as he increased taxes with national insurance going up by 1.25%. The Owen Paterson row displayed his incompetence to rule as he was accused of breaking lobbying rules, to which Mr Johnson incorrectly responded by pausing his suspension. 


The shambles that occurred during his time in office and the scandals with the conservative party has been detrimental to their perception among the British public. The impact of these scandals has been felt by the Conservative party, as the likelihood of them winning an election is slim if it went to the general election according to election polls.


It was no surprise that Boris Johnson was supposed to face a second vote of confidence by cabinet ministers to which he responded with his resignation. He was viewed as unsuitable to continue to lead the country when he could not keep his personal affairs in order, let alone the country's affairs. 


In the wake of his departure, 5 candidates stepped forward, out of the five, two remain - Liz Truss the Foreign Secretary and Rishi Sunak the former Chancellor.


Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary has an extensive history within the field of politics including, being the Education Minister in 2012, the Environment Secretary in 2014 and 2016, and the Justice Secretary under Teresa May. Under Boris Johnson, she was promoted to International Trade Secretary and then in 2021, took one of the most senior roles in government, Foreign Secretary. 


Her manifesto includes extensive tax cuts and changes in the spending of the country as she champions the reversal of the rise in National insurance and scraps the proposed rise in corporation tax, which is going to increase from 19%-25% in 2023. She wants to reform the European Convention on Human Rights, alongside committing to a Net Zero policy for 2050. 


However, according to the Independent, Ms Truss’ £30bn tax cuts could fuel inflation and damage public services, explains economists.  There could be corrosion of the quality of the public services in the United Kingdom if Ms Truss pushed forward with the tax cuts before ensuring that services are protected against inflation. Her reform of taxes is labelled risky and a gamble by economists such as Frances Coppola who believes that these reforms could backfire. Moreover, the controversial Rwanda deportation policy will not be touched if she comes to power. She has asked Turkey to join the Rwanda deportation programme, presenting her support for the controversial legislation.


Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor is also in the running for the PM position and currently seems to be the favourite amongst fellow MPs. He was appointed the position of Chancellor in February 2020 and vowed to do all he could to help the British public during the pandemic. He issued a £350 billion support scheme, which included the furlough initiative to help individuals suffering because of the impacts of the pandemic.


Mr Sunak’s campaign includes the reduction of taxes once inflation has passed and cutting income tax before the next parliament. He wants radical reforms and has pledged to maintain defence spending. He also is committing to a Net Zero 2050 target and wants to create new legislation in regards to grooming and abuse perpetrated by gangs. He plans on publishing a manifesto on women's rights and investing in an expansion of offshore wind. He plans to keep defence spending to where it currently is and like Lizz Truss, he supports the controversial Rwanda immigration policy.


However, he has not escaped his own set of scandals during his time in the cabinet as he was also fined by the Met police for breaking lockdown rules along with other cabinet ministers.


The millionaire also received criticism from the British public as people questioned his ability to be able to relate to ordinary citizens who are facing economic hardship due, to his lavish lifestyle as a millionaire married to an heiress. It would be hard for a millionaire to relate to common inconveniences that people on low incomes face, and therefore be hard for him to adapt his ideas and strategies to target these issues effectively. 


His heiress wife, Akshata Mueky, also caused a storm of criticism for the MP as she avoided paying up to £20 million in taxes due to her non-domiciled status. The apparent hypocrisy that occurred was sickening. Rishi Sunak was increasing the taxes of the country about to go into a recession, but his wife was not contributing to these taxes herself. His marriage to the Indian billionaire's daughter spurred a surge in criticism against him for how out of touch with reality his life is. This prompted questions of how effectively he can lead a country through a possible recession in the near future.



Over the next few weeks, both candidates will compete for the position of the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. As it stands, the YouGov polls as of the 21st of July are favouring Ms Truss with “62% voting her over 38% for him”. Mr Sunak’s refusal to cut taxes as soon as he enters number 10 will work against him in the election. However, there is still time for the race to turn around as the final decision is not until the 5th of September 2022, therefore anything is possible. 


Edited by: Wenyi Gao


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