Boris Johnson Leads UK PM Polls, Says “Prepare For No Deal”

Now that Theresa May has confirmed that she will step down as prime minister on June 7 during a tearful resignation speech, investors, politics junkies and inveterate gamblers are all eagerly placing bets on who will win the upcoming Tory leadership contest and become the next to occupy No. 10.

BoJo

Ladbrokes latest odds put Boris Johnson - widely regarded as the front runner - at about even (5/4), while Dominic Raab, widely seen as the most serious challenger to Johnson, has been given odds of 4:1.

Despite his reputation for courting controversy, Johnson - whose full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson - has long been one of the most popular politicians in the UK.

Infographic: The most popular political figures in the UK | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

The Brexiteer leader is known to have a cozy relationship with President Trump. In his first remarks after May's resignation, Johnson said that though he wants a 'pragmatic' Brexit, the UK must be prepared for 'no deal'. Because the only way to get a good deal, Johnson said, is to be prepared to walk away. Whatever happens, Johnson said he believes the UK will leave the EU on Halloween regardless. He added that the UK 'has to' rule out revoking Article 50.

The pound slid in reaction to BoJo's remarks during what has been a volatile day for the British currency.

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As the Economist explains, Johnson is the overwhelming favorite among the Tory party faithful: His only real challenge will be convincing his fellow MPs to include him on the shortlist of two who will be put to the broader membership for a primary-like vote.

For those unfamiliar with the British political system, here's how electing the new leader will work (per the Telegraph).

First, a candidate must be formally proposed ans seconded by his or her fellow MPs. Then, a ballot of Tory MPs is held in which the candidate with the least support drops off the list. Candidates who accept that they don't have the support required may withdraw from the race. This process is repeated until just two candidates remain. Then, the two 'shortlist' candidates will be put to a general vote where the party's 150,000 members will choose the winner (the vote is limited to those who have been members since at least before the 'call for nominations' went out). That's compared to the 46 million voters in the UK.

During the campaign, the two candidates will appear at events around the country to deliver their pitch to the voters.

Whoever achieves more than 50% of the vote will be declared Party Leader.

Meanwhile, here are the biographies of the top three contenders (courtesy of the Independent):

BORIS JOHNSON (54)

The former foreign minister is May's most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.

Johnson, regarded by many eurosceptics as the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, set out his pitch to the membership in a bombastic speech at the party's annual conference last October - some members queued for hours to get a seat.

He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try to ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.

DOMINIC RAAB (44)

Britain’s former Brexit minister quit May’s government last year in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. Raab served only five months as head of the Brexit department, having been appointed in July.

He was seen as a relative newcomer to the top table of government, but had served in junior ministerial roles since being elected in 2010. Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the referendum and is a black belt in karate.

Asked earlier this month if he would like to be prime minister he said: “Never say never."

ANDREA LEADSOM (55)

Another pro-Brexit campaigner who still serves in May’s cabinet, Leadsom made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron. But rather than force a run-off vote against Theresa May, she withdrew from the contest. She currently runs parliamentary business for the government.

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Given Johnson's Brexiteer bona fides, media outlets from the UK and US (the Telegraph, Bloomberg) have warned that his ascension to the leadership would create a 'nightmare' for Brussels, which is reportedly already preparing for a scenario where Johnson or Raab tries to renegotiate May's withdrawal agreement.

The leadership election is expected to take between four and six weeks. May will stay on as a 'caretaker' PM until the new leader is selected. Looking further down the road, here's a flowchart of what might follow Johnson or Raab's move to No. 10.

Brexit