Who’s who in UK post-Brexit party battles

The race is on in the UK to find David Cameron’s successor as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has seen his own MPs pass a motion of no confidence in his leadership.

Whoever takes the Conservative leadership — the result of the upcoming vote will be known on September 9 — it is believed a general election to gain a public mandate for the new prime minister may be called.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson and interior minister Theresa May are considered to be the front-runners in the key leadership race, but they come from far ends of the Brexit divide.

Mr Johnson was a leading campaigner for the Leave side, while Ms May backed Remain but did not play a prominent role in the failed campaign.

Support for Ms May, however, is higher than for Mr Johnson at 31 per cent versus 24 per cent in a YouGov poll, according to The Times.

The numbers are higher for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, but for all the wrong reasons.

More than three-quarters of his parliamentary party — 172 MPs — have voted that they have no confidence in his leadership. But he says he is not going anywhere.

Labour deputy Tom Watson is an obvious front-runner should the day of reckoning come, but he is standing firmly behind Mr Corbyn. Unless, that is, he goes voluntarily, according to The Guardian’s sources.

Here is quick primer on the key personalities in this turbulent time in British politics.

Boris Johnson

Born in New York in 1964 as Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the former London mayor once again proved he had the Midas touch with voters as the focal point of the Leave campaign.

That victory came at a cost, with many in the Conservative party blaming him for stoking internal warfare between those wanting to Remain and those in favour of Leave.

The leadership ambitions of the former Brussels-based journalist have been the worst-kept secret in British politics ever since victory in London’s mayoral race eight years ago sent his profile skyrocketing.

Former prime minister John Major dismissed the mop-haired Mr Johnson as a “court jester” with no hope of leading the Tories.

Theresa May

The 60-year-old Home Secretary is known for her shrewd operation of one of the most difficult portfolios in Government.

But even as one of the longest-serving interior ministers in history, the BBC says “her wider political appeal has yet to be tested”.

She backed Remain in the Brexit referendum, but did not play a prominent role in the failed campaign.

Stephen Crabb

Britain’s Work and Pensions Secretary has reportedly already declared he will stand as a candidate, making him the first candidate to show his hand.

“We need stability. We need direction. And what I want to see in the next few days is a candidate emerge who understands the enormity of the situation that we’re in and who has got a clear plan,” he said on Monday.

The 43-year-old grew up on a low income council estate in western Wales.

The Politico website said his campaign could be “the antidote to the old-Etonian rule of David Cameron and Boris Johnson”.

Jeremy Hunt

The Health Secretary, who called for the option of a second referendum on the terms of leaving the EU in the Daily Telegraph, may also be considering a bid.

“Britain must and will leave the EU. But we did not vote on the terms of our departure,” Mr Hunt wrote.

He has already said his preference is for a general election to establish a new prime minister, and has echoed Mr Cameron’s remarks to European leaders about the UK continuing free trade with the EU but controlling immigration.

It’s worth noting that British Chancellor George Osborne ruled out making a bid to be leader of the Conservatives on Tuesday.

Writing in The Times, Mr Osborne said he was not be the right person to lead the party because of his advocacy for the Remain vote.

Jeremy Corbyn

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 per cent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy,” said the Labour leader after the no confidence vote.

It is unclear what the party procedure is if Mr Corbyn refuses to go. Or if he is even allowed to stand again.

He certainly has the support of the far left and union blocs, who put him into the leadership last September and are now angry with fellow Labour identities for muddying the battle with the Tories in a post-Brexit UK.

Whether his limp effort in stopping the EU departure in the first place will see him Leave as well is on the knife’s edge.

Tom Watson

The deputy leader was sending Snapchats from the Glastonbury music festival as Mr Corbyn sacked his shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn in the wake of the Brexit vote.

A highly visible presence and a champion of prosecuting the Murdoch press during the phone hacking case, Mr Watson has been a key advisor since Mr Corbyn’s election.

He has already confronted Mr Corbyn to say he had lost the support of the party, but seems to be willing to wait for his leader to voluntarily go.

Angela Eagle

A former shadow cabinet business secretary, Ms Eagle is moving the fastest to firm up support in the Labour Party’s move on Mr Corbyn.

The Telegraph has reported that Ms Eagle and Mr Watson have had at least one closed-door meeting since the no confidence vote on Mr Corbyn, where they discussed who was to step up and nominate.

“Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity,” she wrote in her resignation letter to Mr Corbyn.

The Guardian said the MP “has both party unity credentials and economic nous … [and] she is both experienced and popular with party members, regularly topping the Labour List shadow Cabinet rankings”.

Hilary Benn

The sacked shadow foreign minister who kicked off Mr Corbyn’s ordeal has often been at odds with the Labour leader.

The Independent wrote on Wednesday that Mr Benn, the son of iconic Labour figure Tony Benn, had been asked by fellow MPs to put his name forward, but had refused.

The newspaper said it was “partly because he does not want his family to go through the experiences he endured as the son of a politician who became a household name”, which is curious, as his sacking was all about his potential for challenging Mr Corbyn.

Original at ABC News