As the unexpected returns from British elections Thursday night showed that the ruling Conservative Party had lost its majority in the House of Commons, speculation mounted that Prime Minister Theresa May would soon relinquish her office.
“Theresa May will no longer be prime minister in another 48 hours,” Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party and member of parliament flatly predicted to the BBC.
The odds were rising that Conservatives would replace her with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. At an election night party at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington, talk of a “Prime Minister Johnson” grew as results showing the Conservatives losing their 15-seat majority in Commons were successively posted.
According to the Daily Express, bookmakers listed the odds against former London Mayor Johnson becoming prime minister at 66-to-1 before the election. But by late Thursday night, those odds dropped to 5-to-1, according to the Express.
In claiming her own re-election, a shaken May left voters unclear whether she would attempt to form a new government and remain as prime minister with a minority of Conservative seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.
When then-Prime Minister David Cameron resigned last year after the Brexit referendum went against the U.K. remaining in the European Union, Johnson was considered his heir apparent. But maneuvering and betrayal by close associates forced him to abandon the campaign for Conservative leadership that was eventually won by May. In becoming prime minister, May turned to Johnson as foreign secretary.
Johnson, who was spokesman for the “out” forces in Brexit in 2016, was already sounding like a candidate Thursday night. In claiming victory in his own parliamentary constituency, the foreign secretary mocked the concept that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could become prime minister and oversee the negotiations with the EU to finalize Brexit.
Johnson, 52, has a long history of outspokenness and publicity stunts that have led several pundits to dub him “Britain’s answer to Donald Trump.”
Other potential Conservative candidates for prime minister are Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson.
By all accounts, Conservative Party leaders and activists were furious at May for calling an election three years before she had to. Her gamble yielded results that were nothing short of disastrous for the party.
Along with losing their majority, the Conservatives also lost considerable talent for the future. Home Secretary Amber Rudd, one of May’s closest associates who was often mentioned as a future prime minister, was locked in a recount for her Hastings-based seat. In Coventry, Resham Kotecha, at 28 one of the party’s brightest stars for tomorrow, lost to longtime Labour Party incumbent Geoffrey Robinson.
“It wasn’t an opportune time to call an election,” concluded venerable BBC election anchor David Dimbleby in one of the evening’s biggest understatements.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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