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All change: Theresa May to become Prime Minister on Wednesday

It seems like the last few weeks has trumped all the old adages of politics – and today was no different. A week is no longer a long time in politics…it’s now just a couple of days. David Cameron woke up this morning expecting to go to Balmoral at the end of August and to the G20 Summit in early September as Britain’s Prime Minister. Instead, he will now be packing his bags and moving out of Downing Street this Wednesday afternoon, after saying goodbye to his Cabinet tomorrow morning and to the Commons at PMQs on Wednesday.

Theresa May will be our new Prime Minister in just two days’ time after Andrea Leadsom somewhat unexpectedly decided to pull out of the race. Mrs Leadsom clearly disappointed her supporters who seemed to have the air of zealotry around them. But she probably did herself many favours. After the gaffe about ‘being a mum’ over the weekend it was clear that the knives would be out not just to stop her winning the leadership, but also to destroy her reputation. There are those in the Conservative Party who do not believe Mrs Leadsom is up to a big job in Cabinet and like even less the UKIP tinges of her supporter base. It will be now up to Mrs May to decide how she includes those who fought for Brexit in her new Cabinet team, including Andrea Leadsom, but it’s not going to be easy.

Brexit has divided the country and the Conservative Party. The difficulty for the new Prime Minister is that even after such a swift leadership race, the Conservative Party governs with a narrow 12-seat majority. The Government will find it difficult to carry on unless Mrs Leadsom’s supporters are prepared to bury the hatchet. The swift rise of Prime Minister Theresa May means that she has not offered jobs to anyone and owes no-one her newfound prominence. Despite speculation about a coronation, this is a quick changing of the guard by anyone’s standards. There will be no grace period, no summer consulting of close allies for the new PM. Mrs May now has 48 hours and a blank sheet of paper to construct a Cabinet that can heal the wounds of the referendum campaign and set out the direction for the new administration on Brexit negotiations.

Whilst the country awaits the arrival of its second female Prime Minister, the other side of the political aisle continues its civil war. Former Minister Angela Eagle MP submitted enough nominations today to challenge the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The big decisions for how this plays out for Labour will now be decided at a meeting of its National Executive Committee on Tuesday. Does Mr Corbyn need to collect nominations in order to re-stand or will he be on the ballot paper automatically? The Labour battle is getting scrappier by the day. With the latest polls showing the Government eight points ahead of the opposition even more a honeymoon period for the new administration, it is little wonder that there is speculation about an early election.

By the end of this week, Britain will have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. Some of the faces may be new, but the challenges of Brexit and negotiating the country’s place in the world remains the same.

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