Tory grandees, Scotland’s Sturgeon pressure UK PM to leave now

Tory grandees, Scotland’s Sturgeon pressure UK PM to leave now

Prime Minister Boris Johnson should leave office immediately as Britain cannot afford a drawn-out Conservative contest to replace him, former Tory leader John Major said Thursday.

Major, prime minister from 1990 to 1997, echoed opposition parties including Labour, which said it wanted a vote of no confidence in parliament rather than letting Johnson stay on for months.

Surrendering to a cabinet revolt, the scandal-tainted Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative leader and said the timetable to elect a successor to replace him as premier would be set out next week.

It is expected to take months, with the new party leader and prime minister installed in time for the Conservatives’ annual conference in early October.

Major, writing to the “1922 Committee” of Tory MPs managing the contest, said that timeline would be “unwise and may be unsustainable”.

“In such a circumstance the prime minister maintains the power of patronage and, of even greater concern, the power to make decisions which will affect the lives of those within all four nations of the United Kingdom and further afield,” he said.

“Some will argue that his new cabinet will restrain him. I merely note that his previous cabinet did not -– or could not -– do so.”

Major said Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab could be acting leader until Johnson’s successor is found.

Or Tory MPs could shorten the process by electing the new leader, rather than submitting the two top contenders who emerge in runoff votes to grassroots members.

George Freeman, who quit as science minister earlier Thursday, agreed that Johnson should not hang around.

– ‘Farce’ –

He should “hand in the seals of office, apologise to Her Majesty (Queen Elizabeth II), allow her to appoint a caretaker under whom ministers can serve, so the Conservative party can choose a new leader properly”, Freeman said.

A majority of Britons, or 56 percent, also want a caretaker prime minister while a successor is elected, pollsters YouGov said.

The figure includes 37 percent of people who voted Conservative at the last general election in 2019, it added.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has battled with Johnson to get him to allow a second vote on independence, said it was “unsustainable” to allow him to stay on.

“He will want to do things and in the process of that undoubtedly cause more chaos than he has already,” the Scottish National Party leader told the BBC.

“The interests of people from all parts of the UK surely must be to bring this farce to an end, without any further delay.”

But Theresa May, who was evicted from Downing Street by Johnson’s allies in 2019, ruled out an interim premier.

Any new leader should look to unify after the rampant divisions of Johnson’s tenure, she added in a speech as he announced his resignation.

“I am concerned when I look at some other countries and the polarisation of politics in the United States, for example,” May said.

“I think that we need to ensure that we avoid going down that very polarised route of politics and society.”

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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