Last week, while moving closer to 10 Downing Street, Britain's former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson secured a final place on the Conservative leadership’s final ballot with the support of 162 Tory MPs. In the final contest, Johnson will face current Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who got the support of 77 colleagues, leaving the environment secretary close behind at 75 votes.
Johnson has consistently extended his lead by wide margins, and his campaign team has effectively been able to garner support from a majority of hard Brexit-supporting MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, who heads the Eurosceptic European Research Group.
Trailing Johnson is Hunt, whose support falls far short of Johnson’s, but whose lead over the other candidates has been fairly consistent and has been able to position himself as the only alternative to a Johnson premiership.
In the final round, the Tory membership will vote on the candidates, and the winner will be announced in the week starting July 22. The leadership race was triggered after Theresa May's resignation from the premiership on June 7 after repeatedly failing to secure enough votes for her Brexit deal in the House of Commons.
However, both candidates are playing on the possibility of a no deal Brexit by the end of October triggering great concern from U.K. businesses. No deal Brexit concerns are already causing delays in major foreign investment plans in the U.K. The number of foreign investment projects in the U.K. dropped by 14% to 1,782 in the fiscal year ending March 2019, marking the lowest level in six years, according to a report published on Wednesday by the U.K.’s Department for International Trade.
Last Thursday, Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono told the BBC that he is “very concerned” over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and the consequences for Japanese businesses in the U.K. Speaking to the BBC’s Today program ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Kono said that the 1,000 plus Japanese businesses operating in the U.K. were worried about a “negative impact” on their operations if a withdrawal agreement with the EU is not reached.
Kono said, “We have been asking the U.K. government to let the Japanese companies know what they can expect, and things should then happen smoothly without any disruption.”
It is clear that now the next U.K. Prime Minister will be a hard Brexiteer with a greater risk of leaving the European Union with no deal. Moreover, if this transpires, a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be inevitable bringing further tension and uncertainties to all parties.