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Who could replace Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader and prime minister?

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Not long ago Chancellor Rishi Sunak was seen as the front runner to replace Boris Johnson, but his popularity has waned and now the field of potential successors is far more open. So who could throw their hat in the ring?

Tory MPs are preparing to cast votes that will decide Boris Johnson’s future, after more than 54 of them submitted letters saying they had no confidence in his leadership.

If the majority of his party choose to support him, under current party rules he will be protected against further challenge for a year. If he loses the vote, however, a leadership contest will be triggered – less than three years since he was first elected.

These are the candidates that could stand to replace him:

  • Rishi Sunak – Up until the last few months, the chancellor was seen by many Conservative MPs as the frontrunner in the race to succeed Mr Johnson. A poll in January found that almost half of Tory members thought Rishi Sunak would make a better leader and could win more seats at the next election than Mr Johnson. But after introducing a number of policies – such as increasing National Insurance contributions – that went down badly with Tory MPs, his popularity has slumped.
  • Liz Truss – Ms Truss, like Mr Sunak, is widely seen to have been laying the groundwork for a future tilt at the top job with her social media output. She has been an MP since 2010 and began rising up the ministerial ladder soon after entering parliament. She is currently the longest continuously serving member of the cabinet, having held positions under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson
  • Jeremy Hunt – The current chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee was Boris Johnson’s rival in the head-to-head run-off in the last Conservative leadership election in 2019. While Mr Hunt appears to have grown to enjoy his role as a party grandee and chair of a select committee, he has repeatedly refused to rule out another run at the leadership. His backers believe his strength as a candidate would come from not being tainted by being part of Mr Johnson’s cabinet.
  • Sajid Javid – Sajid Javid has held almost every senior cabinet position – he is currently health secretary, but has served as chancellor, home secretary, housing secretary, business secretary and culture secretary. He returned to Boris Johnson’s cabinet last summer having dramatically resigned as chancellor at the start of 2020 when he refused to allow Number 10 to choose his team of advisers. During his time on the backbenches he made efforts to portray himself as a Thatcherite and was critical of some COVID measures, but his support for the Remain campaign in the Brexit referendum, and recent backing of Plan B measures, may put off some Conservative MPs.
  • Priti Patel – She was a major backer of Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in 2019 and was rewarded by being appointed home secretary. But since taking on that role her star appears to have faded, with her handling of the small boat crossings in the channel being a source of significant criticism. Her popularity among the right wing of the parliamentary party means her candidacy should not be written off, but questions over her handling of the Channel migrant crisis have likely dented her chances. However, a report published in November 2020 by the prime minister’s then adviser on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, had found the home secretary had breached the ministerial code with behaviour that amounted to bullying.
  • Dominic Raab – Dominic Raab stood in as acting prime minister when Boris Johnson was struck down with COVID in the spring of 2020. His current position as both justice secretary and deputy prime minister should, on paper at least, put him in a strong position to put his hat in the ring. But his attempt to win the top job did not succeed in 2019, and many cast doubt on the idea it would he would be able to secure sufficient support from Conservative MPs this time around.
  • Michael Gove – Currently serving as the secretary of state for the new levelling up department, Michael Gove would be one of the most experienced candidates should he choose to run. He has been at the heart of Boris Johnson’s government throughout his premiership, first running the cabinet office, and then taking on responsibility for what the prime minister described as the central plank of his agenda. But his decision to pull the rug from under Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in 2016, having initially been his campaign chairman, has lived long in the memory of Conservative MPs.

Would you like to see Boris stand down? Who do you think should replace him?

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Ex F1 chief executive would “take a bullet” for “friend” Vladimir Putin

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Bernie Ecclestone Putin

Formula 1 have issued a statement following comments by their former chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, in an interview with Good Morning Britain on Thursday morning, in which he praised “sensible” Vladimir Putin who he would “still take a bullet for”.

 

The 91-year-old businessman said that “unfortunately he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me, that we make mistakes from time to time and when you make the mistake, you have to do the best you can to get out of it.”

 

These comments come amidst the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine following President Putin’s authorisation of a “special military operation” in the east, after intense diplomacy and the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia failed to deter him.

 

Ecclestone simultaneously criticised the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy for not making a “big enough effort to speak to Putin”, whom he described as a “sensible person” who “would have listened to him and could have probably done something about it.”

 

He went on to confirm that he believed that if Zelenskyy had done more to avert war, as opposed to any change in Putin’s actions, the conflict that has taken the lives of thousands of innocent Ukrainian people could have been averted. “I’m quite sure Ukraine, if they’d wanted to get out of it properly, could have done.”

 

A Formula One spokesman has said: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of our sport.”

 

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British Airways staff to strike over summer holidays

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A total of 700 British Airways workers at Heathrow Airport have voted in favour of and are set to go on a strike during the summer holidays in a dispute over pay, where demand is at its highest.

 

Unite and GMB union members have backed industrial action due to a 10% pay cut which was imposed at the peak of the pandemic, and is not to be reinstated. 94.7% of Unite members and 95% of GMB members voted in favour of the walkouts.

 

It is understood that these proposed strikes will only be undertaken by fewer than 50% of British Airways staff at Heathrow Airport. Nevertheless, if these strikes go ahead, there will no doubt be disruption for passengers and possible cancellations of flights.

 

Some members of BA staff, such as ground operations and engineers, have had their pay cuts reversed, however the GMB claim that check-in staff “have had nothing”. Unite have called this an insult. BA have issued a statement claiming that they are “extremely disappointed” with the decision made and are committed to finding a solution with the unions.

 

The exact strike dates are to be confirmed in the next few days.

 

What are your thoughts on the strikes, join us on Facebook to join the conversation…

 

Follow us at @GBToday for updates.

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Biggest Rail Strikes in 30 years to go ahead as talks fail

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Britain is braced for the biggest rail strikes in 30 years after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a row over pay and conditions.

Thousands of staff affiliated to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 other train operators will walk out tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday.

The RMT says plans by Network Rail – the body which owns stations, track and signals – to cut 2,500 jobs, will put safety at risk. But the industry says it has to modernise and safety will not be compromised.

The Rail Delivery Group – which represents train firms – says the Covid pandemic has led to a decline in passenger numbers and while it wants to offer a pay rise to staff, the way the network operates has to change. But the RMT says it is prepared to take industrial action “for as long as it takes to get a settlement” and warned strikes could take place for the next six months.

It says train operators have now made an offer, but there is no further offer from Network Rail, after one was rejected last Friday. General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, whose department oversees the operation of the network, described calls by the RMT for ministers to intervene as a “stunt” and accused the union of “gunning” for industrial action. He said the strike was orchestrated by “union barons” and will cause misery and chaos to millions of commuters.

Services have begun to be affected this evening, and are likely to be disrupted throughout this week as the impact of the staggered stops cause an impact even on non-strike days.  Talks had continued this afternoon, but the two sides could not reach a deal.

Sources close to the negotiations said Network Rail was prepared to offer striking unions a five per cent pay rise to settle the dispute.

Use this tool to see if trains will run from your station.

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