After three years of to-ing and fro-ing, it seems, finally, the brexiteers are going to get their man in Number 10. If early indications are anything to go by, former London mayor and home secretary Boris Johnson is set to become Britain's next prime minister.
The controversial politician, who was an influential figurehead of the Vote Leave campaign, is far and away the favourite to win the Conservative leadership election. While the contest will be eventually decided by conservative members, it is clear that Johnson is far and away the frontrunner after securing the backing of 117 MPs in the first vote.
The initial vote has coincided with the launch of Mr Johnson's extravagant leadership campaign. The UK's national newspapers have been covered in publicity shots that will delight many brexiteers whilst adding to the despair of those who are against Britain ending its more than four-decade membership of the European Union. Johnson very much represents the pro-Brexit leaning side of the Conservative party and serves as a beacon to those who wish to leave the European Union by any means necessary.
The largesse of Mr Johnson's media campaign is not surprising; he has always been able to draw a crowd, it's his superpower. It’s this crowd-drawing ability which has propelled him to the very front of the leadership race. As London mayor, Johnson was able to become the face of Britain's capital around the world and he has used this platform to aid pet projects such as Brexit to propel himself up the political ladder.
One factor adding to Johnson's cause is that many of the others in the leadership race have almost no media profile at all (perhaps bar Jeremy Hunt, but that's a negative in his case). If the media is going to be the deciding factor, Boris has already won.
The end of Theresa May's chaotic reign as leader of the Conservatives would have encouraged many pro-EU onlookers, but the meteoric rise of Boris Johnson means this initial joy has quickly turned to panic. Prone to wild swings, Johnson is very much seen as a controversial but undeniably charismatic politician. It is these swings and bumbling antics that will undoubtedly ensure that he is compared to US president Donald Trump; which, surprisingly, may be just what Johnson wants to hear.
Recent political moves to the right across many western democracies have been triggered by the confusion and media manipulation that has become a Trump calling card. Indeed Trump isn't the only one - Russia's Vladimir Putin is well known for the spreading of disinformation, not only in Russia but also abroad. These two leaders are just the tip of the right-wing iceberg. You also have the rise of the Five Star Movement in Italy as well as the rise of Hungary's Viktor Orban. The worrying spectre of a right-wing rise is very much becoming a reality.
So, considering that Britain's next prime minister is likely to be a brexiteer who has championed a no-deal Brexit, what does the future hold for the three million EU migrants currently residing in the UK? Well, if the last few days are anything to go by, Johnson has toned the rhetoric down. This isn't surprising - he has a lot of Conservative members to convince let alone the public at large. While he has talked down a no-deal, his lack of words on the subject of immigration is concerning.
So how likely is it the UK will leave the European Union on the 31st of October? It’s still difficult to know. While Boris Johnson is clearly a fan, to get the support he needs to get into Number 10 he is going to have to appeal to a vast range of opinions - including a large number of remainers who populate the Conservative party (who had made Theresa May's final days so tricky).
Certainly there has been a climb down from the favourite to be Britain's next prime minister. The flamboyant rhetoric has been changed to try and increase the appeal of a candidate who divides opinion more than most. While Johnson is certainly using the Donald Trump playbook to secure the top job, the two jobs have a distinct difference which means that while Trump can use executive powers to circumvent the opinions of others, Johnson as prime minister could not. This means he must increase his appeal across Westminster to ensure a safe passage into the hottest seat in British politics.
The last few years have been a turbulent time for the 3 million EU citizens who reside in the UK; it appeared there was some resolution on the horizon with the introduction of the EU settlement scheme which was introduced to secure the rights of those who had come from the European Union to live in the UK. However, it appears that perhaps once again there is some concern over the future ability of these people who add so much to the British economy to stay.
While it seems extremely unlikely that those rights are going to be completely removed for the 3 million EU citizens who are already here, the future is far less certain. We can only hope that if Boris Johnson does enter Number 10, he does not get carried away on the crest of a right-wing wave and does the right thing for the people who had so much to Britain's economy.
If you are concerned about your future in the UK then please get in touch. Our experienced immigration specialists can help you by using up-to-the-minute information to ensure your stay in the UK.
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