Who will succeed Boris Johnson?

Tory members have until September 5 to vote on who should lead the Conservative Party and by extension the British government. According to polls, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has a clear lead against her only remaining rival, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Commentators weigh up the prospects.

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The Independent (GB) /

Truss could hold her own as PM

The Independent does not agree with the view that front runner Truss would soon fail as prime minister:

“There are several component parts of that judgement. One is Truss's response to the crisis. Even if people suffer, she might be given credit for trying to protect them and for taking the right decisions. Another, assuming that she survives the initial onslaught, is whether the voters think that Starmer and the Labour Party offer a safer alternative. Truss would have to be a very bad prime minister indeed for the answer to that question to be obvious.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Ties to Johnson disqualify both candidates

Neither Truss nor Sunak are fit to lead the country, complains the Times of Malta:

“What should have made both candidates ineligible was their shared past in a government wantonly flouting democratic norms and standards of decency. ... Judges were branded enemies of the people. Parliament was sent home to not interfere with the executive, and independently-minded MPs defenestrated. The civil service, envied for its expertise and sense of duty, was purged of its brightest. The final withdrawal agreement with the EU was called into question as soon as it was signed by Johnson.”

Der Standard (AT) /

The British deserve better

The Tories' election campaign shows little regard for the problems of the people, London correspondent Sebastian Borger writes in Der Standard:

“Britain is stumbling from one crisis to another this summer without a leader. ... Meanwhile, the two people still vying for the top post in the party and government are passing time on a 'holiday from reality', as political veteran Michael Gove aptly put it. The odds-on favourite, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, is wooing the Tories' 160,000 or so members - who account for 0.3 percent of the voting population - with promises of unaffordable tax cuts, while ex-chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak wants to criminalise 'vilification' of the country. The British deserve better.”

The Guardian (GB) /

No clean break

Neither Rishi Sunak nor Liz Truss will bring a fresh start, The Guardian warns:

“Both represent a continuation of Boris Johnson's politics rather than a repudiation of them. ... If he wins, Mr Sunak would be the first non-white prime minister in Britain. Ms Truss, if successful, would be the country's third female prime minister. Either would be an important moment for diversity. But this underscores the symbolic value of representation. Both candidates bear responsibility for the government's substantial failure to remedy systemic inequality.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Truss will come out on top

Ria Novosti scoffs at the fact that the country's head of government will be decided by members of a single party:

“The polling service YouGov interviewed 725 conservatives and came to the conclusion that Truss will win the run-off against Sunak: 55 percent will vote for her, 35 percent for the ex-finance minister. Of course, there is still a whole month of debates, appearances and election promises ahead. But it's doubtful that Sunak will be able to reverse this ratio. ... The British press is not able to give an exact number when it comes to Tory Party members - it varies between 160,000 and 200,000. In any case, only 0.4 percent of all eligible British voters will determine who becomes the new head of government. Very democratic!”

La Tribune de Genève (CH) /

Laughing on the sidelines

Even before the run-off it's already clear who the real winner is, writes Johnson's biographer Tristan de Bourbon in La Tribune de Genève:

“Regardless of who becomes Boris Johnson's successor - which will be announced on 5 September - this sad spectacle will produce only one winner: the Labour Party. The MPs of the largest opposition party are rubbing their hands with glee. Their leader Keir Starmer senses that now for the first time he has a real chance of winning the next general election, slated for 2024 - despite his lack of charisma and a clear political course.”