Boris Johnson, barring a ludicrous electoral upset, will be unveiled as the new Tory leader and UK prime minister this week.
Here we go
After 17 hustings, interviews and two-head-to-head TV debates, voting in the leadership contest ends at 5pm on Monday. Brandon Lewis, the Conservative Party chairman, has admitted “hundreds” of the 160,000 party members have complained about being denied a vote. But given the result is not exactly expected to be close, it is unlikely that will swing it either way. Johnson is set to be crowned on Tuesday morning.
Theresa May will endure her last Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday. When former UK PM David Cameron bowed out almost exactly three years ago to the day on July 13, 2016, he was rewarded with applause.
The reaction of MPs towards May might be a little more...muted. Speaking in the chamber back then, Ken Clarke warned that parliament faced a “large number of problems over the next few years” as “no two people know what Brexit means at the moment”. Nothing has changed.
Immediately after PMQs, May is expected to travel to the palace to hand in her resignation. Johnson will then make his own visit to the Queen to be appointed prime minister. His honeymoon will be short.
Then things get Gaukward
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke have both confirmed they intend to resign from the cabinet before Johnson takes over and fires them. International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and other ministers opposed to a no-deal Brexit are likely to join them in jumping before they are pushed. The “Gaukward Squad” will be bolstered on the backbenches by ministers fired by Johnson as puts together his first cabinet towards the end of the week.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been tipped as chancellor. Liz Truss, the chief secretary, is also in the frame for No.11 but could be heading to the business department.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who conveniently abandoned his warning that suspending parliament would betray the soldiers at D-Day, will be hoping for a good gig. The health secretary candidly told a Westminster drinks reception recently he had thrown his support to Johnson because “he’s going to win and needs good people around him”.
Current ministers who once targeted promotion will probably now be happy to cling on to what they have already got. It is quite the mystery what was it was about Johnson’s impending victory that converted Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to accepting a no-deal. And asked if he would keep Jeremy Hunt , his rival for the leadership in his cabinet, Johnson ominously said the answer was “yes or no”.
All of this should be great fun for the official opposition. But Jeremy Corbyn has problems of his own.
Labour to Tories: hold my beer
Labour peers are due to meet on Monday to consider calling for a no-confidence vote in Corbyn’s leadership. The peers, who already operate semi-autonomously, reacted with fury to the leadership’s decision to sack Shadow Brexit Minister Baroness Hayter last week. Hayter, who is the party’s elected deputy leader in the Lords, had compared Corbyn’s leadership to the “last days of Hitler” amid the ongoing crisis within the party over anti-Semitism.
The result of any ballot on Corbyn’s leadership would be announced on Wednesday – Just as the keys to No.10 pass from May to Johnson. The vote would not force Corbyn from office. But many within Labour are expecting a second formal challenge to his leadership and the move by peers will be seen as the opening salvo.
On Wednesday afternoon, Corbyn is due to give evidence to the Commons home affairs committee on Islamophobia. It will be easy for raise the allegations that have hit he Tory party. But equally, it is hard to see how he will escape without having to answer questions about anti-Semitism in Labour.
On top of this, Corbyn could decide to reshuffle his own shadow cabinet to shake-up his team in response to Johnson’s new team.
And Labour has not yet ruled out staging a vote of no-confidence in Johnson’s government as soon as he takes over.
The other leadership result
As if this was not enough for one week, on Monday afternoon the Lib Dems will announce whether Jo Swinson or Ed Davey is their new leader. Swinson has been seen as the favourite but the result could be very close. The party, which is enjoying a surge in polls as the country polarises down Leave/Remain lines, had planned to announce Vince Cable’s successor on the same day as the Tories. But moved it forward to avoid being drowned out.
With the Commons deadlocked and a general election potentially on the horizon, the new Lib Dem leader could once again find themselves as kingmaker in a new parliament.
The Brexit deadline is three months away.