Kampf um die Nachfolge Wie Boris Johnson die Tory-Partei verändert hat

Die Tories streiten um die Nachfolge des geschassten Boris Johnson: Kandidaten wie Rishi Sunak oder Penny Mordaunt grenzen sich von seinem clownesken Regierungsstil ab. Doch Johnson hat als Premier nicht nur Chaos angerichtet, sondern auch die konservative Partei verändert.
Ein Orignaltext aus dem "Economist"
Penny Mordaunt: The antidote to Boris

Penny Mordaunt: The antidote to Boris


Trust exercise

The Conservative Party after Boris Johnson

The race to be the next prime minister is formally under way

The conservative party is a machine for winning and holding power. It has a remarkable capacity for reinvention, changing before change is forced upon it at the ballot box. Boris Johnson’s successor will be the party’s fourth leader, and Britain’s fourth prime minister, since it entered government in 2010. Before 2024 is out, they will be pursuing an unprecedented fifth general election victory.

The contest that is now under way is still in its early days. By the afternoon of July 14th, Tory MPS had whittled down the field from an initial 11 candidates to five; the last two contenders left standing by MPS will appear in hustings over the summer, before a ballot of party members leads to the unveiling of a new prime minister on September 5th. A leadership contest is not a manifesto for government: the candidates’ platforms are not addressed to the wider British public. Yet all the same the early days of a contest reveal where the centre of gravity lies within a party, and where it thinks its route to power lies.

The contours of the party after Mr Johnson seem to be to the right of where they were on economics and culture. Some of his most controversial policies have become a new consensus among mps. But there are also signs—most obviously in the rise of Penny Mordaunt, a former defence secretary who has swiftly become the bookmakers’ favourite (see chart)—of how this steelier tone can be reconciled with the party’s hopes of winning the next election. "There has been a shift [to the right],” says one centrist minister. "But it is the genius of the Tory party to harness it and get it into a vaguely acceptable place.”

Like a body expelling an illness, the entire field repudiates Mr Johnson’s jocular and scandal-prone style of government. All candidates boast of their integrity, seriousness and grip; none seeks to be his heir. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor who picked up the most endorsements among MPS in the first ballot on July 13th, promises an end to "comforting fairy tales”. Kemi Badenoch, an insurgent from the right of the party, declares that voters are "exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric”. Inexperience is a virtue: Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier who has never held ministerial office, promises a "clean start”.

Ms Mordaunt is the greatest beneficiary of a party hankering for change. She is the "antidote to Boris” and a "cleanskin”, according to supporters at a garden party she co-hosted in Westminster on July 13th, complete with jugs of Pimms, a brass band and sponge cake. "We’ve had three years of celebrity-tosser-on-a-high-wire politics,” says one. A naval reservist who fell out of favour under Mr Johnson, Ms Mordaunt urged MPS to pick a leader based not on ideology but "because you trust their motives”. Unlike flighty Mr Johnson, says another ally, she gets the provincial habits of the volunteer party.

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