U.K. opposition chiefs call for new election as Rishi Sunak poised to become 3rd Tory leader in 7 weeks

Britain's former treasury secretary, Rishi Sunak, became the prohibitive favorite to win leadership of the Conservative Party and become Britain's next prime minister — the third in seven weeks — after main rival Boris Johnson dropped his comeback bid Sunday night.

Johnson, who resigned amid scandal in July, claimed in a statement that "there is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members — and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday," but he has "sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do."

Whether or not any of that is true — Sunak had a commanding lead in public and private support among the 357 Tory members in the House of Commons, while Johnson may not even have had enough support to top the threshold of 100 MPs — the opposition parties in Parliament said it's high time for all voters decide the next prime minister.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"The Tories are about to hand Rishi Sunak the keys to the country without him saying a single word about how he would govern. No one voted for this," deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said. "We need an election now — people deserve a vote on the future of the country." Labour leader Keir Starmer told the BBC that Britain "needs to get rid of this chaos."

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the public doesn't want "another Conservative coronation" and will be "rightly be furious that they're set to endure a third Conservative PM in just as many months."

"That the Tories can foist upon us a third prime minister in just three years without an election, in the midst of a cost of living and economic crisis of their making, speaks to how unfair and undemocratic this Westminster system is," agreed Scottish National Party parliamentary leader Ian Blackford. "

"The majority of Brits say they want a general election, even though one is not required until January 2025," The Washington Post explains. "An election can be called early but it would require the support of Conservative lawmakers, which seems unlikely given that the party faces a near wipeout if an election was held today."

But at least one Tory, former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, agreed that Johnson is the only Conservative with a popular mandate to lead, and with him out of the running, "it will now be impossible to avoid" a general election.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us