One of the UK's most controversial politicians, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, has emerged as the clear favorite to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, potentially putting the UK on track to leave the European Union without an agreement in place.
Ms. May announced that she will resign as a conservative leader on June 7 after failing numerous times to get a Brexit agreement through parliament.
Mr Johnson's probable rise – dubbed BoJo by the British tabloids – at the summit highlights the strong possibility that the post-May UK Parliament will consider EU dumping without an existing agreement.
"A new leader will have the opportunity to do things differently and have the momentum of a new administration," Johnson said. "We will leave the EU on October 31, agreement or no agreement. The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a deal".
This approach could create a possible constitutional clash with the parliament, which has consistently agreed that there should never be a Brexit without agreement. But if Mr. Johnson or anyone who became the new PM is determined to leave the EU without an agreement, it is unclear whether the parliament would have the power to stop the move.
Mr. Johnson, a former mayor of London, leads a long list of contenders for the best work that also includes the former Secretary of State for the exit from the EU Dominic Raab; prominent Leave the activist Andrea Leadsom; the secretary of the environment Michael Gove; Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Jeremy Hunt; Minister of Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt; house secretary Sajid Javid; Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart. Even health secretary Matt Hancock, who prefers to stay in the EU, raised his hand.
However, it is possible that at least 20 candidates will emerge, with parliamentarians taking part in several rounds of voting to bring the field down to a shortlist of two.
Mr Johnson has many critics, but he is also seen as the most likely candidate to be able to connect with the public and potentially break the bulldozer through the Brexit drama that strangled British political life from the 2016 pro-Brexit vote.
May, once a reluctant supporter of joining the European Union that got the most turbulence after the 2016 Brexit vote, resigns after failing to keep its main promise: to bring the UK out from the block and heal the divisions of the nation.
"It will, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret for me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," said May, adding that his successor should find a consensus to honor the result of the 2016 referendum .
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said the new prime minister should call an election to "let people decide the future of our country".
The United Kingdom remains a deeply divided country with a political elite that is stalled on how, when and whether to leave the EU. The last deadline for the departure of Great Britain is October 31st.
Most major contenders to succeed may want a tougher divorce agreement.
But the EU said it would not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement it signed with Britain in November.
Spain said it now seemed almost impossible to avoid a so-called hard Brexit, or a clear break from the EU.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney emphasized the block's position that there would be no better Brexit deal.
"This idea that a new prime minister will be a tougher negotiator and put him in the EU and get a much better deal for Britain? That's not how the EU works," Coveney said.
Johnson, the face of the official Brexit campaign in 2016, is the favorite for May's success, with the oddsmakers giving him a 40% chance of winning first place.
Johnson said that Britain could create a "fantastic free trade relationship" with Europe after it left the blockade, but it could also be a supporter of global free trade.
Oddsmakers gave Dominic Raab, a Brexit supporter and former Brexit secretary, a 14% chance.
Michael Gove, former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom and Hunt, each has a 7% chance.
For many conservative politicians, speed is important to install a new leader to try to overcome the Brexit impasse.
The ruling party said it would move quickly to try to end the leadership contest before parliamentary breaks for the summer holidays, a so-called break that usually falls at the end of July.
"The struggle for the heart and soul of the conservative party officially begins now," said Andrew Bridgen, a pro-Brexit politician.
"We need a new PM as soon as possible and who will decide the future of our democracy, our country and the conservative party".
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