Who will lead Britain?

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will face off against Boris Johnson in the race for the Tory leadership and post of British prime minister. The final word will be had by party members in a postal ballot with the winner will being announced at the end of July. Ten candidates ran to succeed May as Tory leader. Brexit hardliner Johnson is viewed as favourite, but Hunt is still very much in the running, commentators believe.

Open/close all quotes
The Economist (GB) /

Johnson could deliver Brexit

The Eurosceptic former foreign minister might actually be the man to deliver a Brexit deal, The Economist hopes:

“The best case for Mr Johnson is that he might use his skill as a salesman and his way with words to hawk the Brexit deal, or something much like it, to a Parliament that has three times rejected it. Mrs May fell 58 votes short on her final attempt. Both Labour and the Tories have since become much more scared of what Brexit is doing to their supporters, who are flocking to the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party respectively. It is conceivable that Mr Johnson - freshly elected, popular in his party and as magnetic as Mrs May is wooden - might persuade enough mps to change their minds.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

It's all up to Hunt now

The race for Tory leadership is still open, Diário de Notícias is sure:

“Jeremy Hunt, who in a surprise development was able to overtake Michael Gove in the penultimate round, now has a few days to wrestle the status of favourite away from Boris Johnson. ... Hunt's key argument will be Johnson's unpredictable and contradictory style. In fact, his considerable experience in government makes him the natural choice as Tory party leader. But these times are anything but normal in Britain. ... In any event the EU will either have to deal with Johnson, who wants to push through Brexit at any cost, or with Hunt, who is more diplomatic than his rival but also refuses to rule out a hard Brexit.”

Libération (FR) /

A tough nut

Hunt comes across as being more of a softie than he really is, Libération comments:

“Just a few days ago he initially endorsed Trump's insulting tweet against London Mayor Sadiq Khan before changing his mind in a TV debate. ... His vacillating, soft-spoken manner, his penchant for compromise and his past as a Remainer could prove a handicap among the Tories, who are keen to regroup behind a strong Brexiteer. But what looks like flexibility can hide firm resolve. For example, he refused to clear his desk as health secretary when May wanted to demote him to chancellor of the exchequer. She ceded. He must not be underestimated and is good for a surprise, his supporters say.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Johnson a guarantee for disaster

If Johnson succeeds May, Britain will face chaotic times, Handelsblatt's London correspondent Kerstin Leitel fears:

“In the past Johnson has never shied away from making a splash with exaggerated promises - hardly any of which he's kept. ... In the fight to succeed May he'll no doubt also promise the world - without a chance of delivering. Needless to say that doesn't make his politics any better or any more predictable. So one can only hope that he'll be sidelined in the race for the prime minister's office, and that another successor with a more realistic approach to Brexit negotiations with the EU will win out. Unfortunately, however, in view of the current pro-Brexit mood in the country that's far from likely.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Outsiders have often won in the end

It's by no means certain that favourite Boris Johnson will win in the end, Le Soir counters:

“Should we trust the pollsters who put this showman in the lead? They've been wrong so often about British voters. ... Above all the big names who were considered favourites in the past lost out to outsiders like John Major or David Cameron, who were completely unknown rather than household names. The history of the British Conservative Party is peppered with top-of-the-charts figures who were denied airtime by their peers. As Frank Sinatra said, 'That's life'.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Candidates making irresponsible promises

The Financial Times doesn't like the fact that almost all the candidates to succeed May are speculating about lowering taxes for the wealthy:

“Candidates for the leadership of the Tory party should seek to restore their party's reputation for fiscal responsibility and economic competence rather than engage in a fruitless bidding war. Only once a disorderly Brexit is avoided should the next prime minister consider releasing the funds. Then the priority should be to reverse the most damaging cuts to spending during the past decade, identifying where austerity has led to false economies. The Conservatives should be seeking to govern for the whole country, not a narrow slice of political activists.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Ways out of the Brexit dilemma

The new prime minister will have three alternatives for resolving the Brexit dilemma, says Keskisuomalainen:

“One alternative is that the parliament makes do with the deal negotiated by May. ... The second is a no-deal Brexit. ... The third is to negotiate a new agreement with the EU. But for many reasons it won't be easy to persuade the EU to go along with this. ... The British may face a new general election if the prime minister elected by the Conservatives can't find a solution to the Brexit problem. However, the Conservatives are doing everything possible to avoid a snap election because their results in the polls aren't particularly good right now.”

Polityka (PL) /

A new star on Britain's political horizon

Polityka sees Rory Stewart as the perfect successor to May:

“Stewart's popularity is the result of his clear stance on Brexit and a committed campaign based on positive emotions. Whereas other candidates want to leave the EU without a deal and haven't presented any plans for the future, Stewart says clearly that a no-deal Brexit makes no sense whatsoever and would leave Britain on the worst trade terms with the EU that the WTO allows - comparable to the terms under which Afghanistan trades with the Union. Whereas Johnson and Raab are conducting their campaigns mainly through the media, Stewart is travelling around the whole country and meeting party members in person. Instead of instilling fear he talks about Britain's enormous potential, which depends on good relations with the EU.”

Duma (BG) /

Boris Johnson is another Trump

With Boris Johnson the Tories would be installing their own Trump as prime minister, comments Duma:

“Trump and Boris Johnson not only have similar haircuts, they also have a similar way of behaving. Johnson, like Trump, is known for making careless statements and being egocentric and power-crazed. Like Trump, he is often mocked for his behaviour but it also brings him many fans. It's no mere coincidence that soon after his arrival in London Trump voiced praise for Johnson, of all people, and recommended him to the British as their next prime minister. This may have provoked indignation, but even without Trump's endorsement Johnson has good chances of securing the post.”