Boris Johnson showed neither humility nor remorse on his last appearance in the House of Commons, when he took up the traditional Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday afternoon. In return, he gave advice that his successor should definitely follow: stay close to the USA. Stand up for Ukraine. Not always listening to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "otherwise the tunnel under the English Channel would never have been built".
And since Johnson flew in a Typhoon fighter jet in Tom Cruise style at the beginning of the week, his parting words also came from strong men on the other side of the Atlantic. "Mission largely accomplished, for now" - Mission largely accomplished, for the moment. "Hasta la vista, baby!" See you next time. As is well known, there was a third Terminator film.
Thus ends a piece of new British history centered on Boris Johnson, whose three major chapters are already book-filling. Brexit, Covid, Ukraine. The next chapter started three hours later in the same place. This, too, can already claim its own place in the chronicles.
On Wednesday afternoon, 355 members of the Tory faction decided that the acting Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (46) and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (42) would enter a duel to succeed Boris Johnson.
Which would be the third time that a Conservative Prime Minister has moved into Downing Street after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May – or, for the first time, a politician with a migration background, the son of Indian immigrants from East Africa. If the bookmakers have their way, the result is already clear: in the betting shops, Truss is up to 20 points ahead of Sunak.
The brief successor election campaign triggered by Boris Johnson's forced resignation on July 7 had made waves by Wednesday. The mutual accusations were so severe that Truss and Sunak canceled a last TV debate planned for Tuesday evening. The British media said that the party leaders had pushed the candidates to do so because the internal mudslinging pushed the Tories' already sagging values even further down.
It is now in the hands of around 180,000 members of the British Conservatives who will ultimately be the head of the household. Since 1998, the rule has been that after the fraction has been pre-filtered, it's the turn of the base. On September 5 at 12.30pm local time, Graham Brady, Chair of the Group's 1922 Committee, will present the winner.
The Duelists' Show, which will take place over the summer, will also be a Conservative dispute over direction. In the current debates, Chancellor Sunak stressed that, unlike his rivals, he "does not tell fairy tales" about the state of Britain's finances.
Yes, he also wants to lower taxes. But only when the budget is so stable again that the United Kingdom can afford such a step. In view of inflation, which was currently 9.4 percent on Wednesday, Sunak does not want to hand out any gifts of money at least for the moment.
Truss, on the other hand, fully relies on the iron Tory principle of low taxes and a small state. She claims that her financial plan is solidly calculated. Financial experts doubt that. There is still a question mark as to whether Sunak's moderate and more solid program will ultimately win members over to his side.
“In contrast to the parliamentary group, the members are very ideological. They are angry that the Johnson administration has backed away from conservative principles," a party insider said. This refers to Johnson's policy of generous government spending and his decision to increase contributions to National Insurance. Truss wants to reverse the raise.
At the same time, the Foreign Minister emphasized her hard line towards the European Union in the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit Treaty. Despite vehement protests from Brussels, Truss introduced a law at the beginning of June that would overturn the protocol.
With her tough stance towards the EU, the ambitious minister wants to convince critics of the party base that she really supports the Brexit, which is very popular with the Tories. Truss voted against leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum and campaigned for membership. A decision that is a clear disadvantage in today's Tory crown contest.
So far, however, Truss' strategy of presenting herself as the experienced minister and occasionally having photos taken of herself in which she looks strikingly like Margaret Thatcher seems to be working. If she doesn't make a big mistake over the summer and if her opponents don't find any skeletons in the closet, Truss could actually follow her great role model.