UK Conservative party leadership race kicks off amid May’s resignation

On Friday, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May stepped down as leader of the governing Conservative party, triggering a leadership election to replace her; she will remain as Prime Minister throughout the process.

PM May announced she would step down last month after failing to deliver Britain’s departure from the European Union on time, deepening a political crisis in a divided country struggling to move on from a 2016 referendum on Brexit.

The leadership race is defined by Brexit and competing approaches on how to deliver Britain’s biggest foreign policy shift in more than 40 years. Candidates have argued over the merit of no-deal Brexit, whereby the UK would leave the EU without a deal. Polls show a no-deal Brexit is preferred by the British public. Official nominations will be received on Monday. Following four rounds of voting, the new leader will be announced on July 22.

YouGov poll

YouGov poll

Former Foreign Minister and mayor of London Boris Johnson is the favorite, championing a tough stance on Brexit. He says Britain should leave with or without a deal by the new deadline of October 31 and is seeking to persuade Conservatives that he is the only candidate who could win a new national election for the Conservative Party, which has suffered heavy loss in public support over PM May and her government’s failure to deliver Brexit. Other leading contenders include the current Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt and Environment Minister Michael Gove, who both take a less hardline stance on Brexit.