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Boris Johnson resignation: Who's in charge of the UK economy now?

·Business Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London
Boris Johnson said that the process of choosing the new leader should begin now, and that the timetable will be announced next week. Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

Boris Johnson has announced his resignation as UK prime minister and Conservative leader, meaning a slew of new candidates are set to take charge of the UK economy.

The PM is wanting to continue in power until the autumn, with a leadership race taking place this summer in time for the Tory party conference in October.

However, he has already faced mounting calls to resign sooner, with a campaign to replace him already underway.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, argued that it was not sustainable for him to continue in his position, given the huge number of vacancies in government, while business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said a new leader was needed "as soon as practicable".

Read more: Betting odds: Who betting markets are predicting will be next PM

“What a depressing state of affairs. So much needless damage caused,” Kwarteng tweeted on Thursday.

“We now need a new Leader as soon as practicable. Someone who can rebuild trust, heal the country, and set out a new, sensible and consistent economic approach to help families.”

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford added: "All four nations need a stable UK government and I am therefore pleased to see the prime minister has now done the right thing and agreed to resign.”

50 MPs have resigned from his government in the past few days, which put pressure on Johnson to leave.

Boris Johnson has since appointed Greg Clark as the new levelling up secretary, replacing Michael Gove, as well as Kit Malthouse becoming chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, the most senior minister in the Cabinet Office after the prime minister.

James Cleverly has also been appointed as education secretary, the third person to hold that post in just a few days.

Read more: Pound rises on Boris Johnson resignation

But the crisis at 10 Downing Street comes at a time when the Britain is facing a sharp cost of living crisis, and soaring inflation, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine. So who will be in charge of the UK economy now?

On Tuesday Rishi Sunak stepped down as chancellor and was replaced by Nadhim Zahawi. After only being in post for two days, he publicly called for the PM to go.

In a public letter, Zahawi said he was “heartbroken” that Boris Johnson was not listening to his advice.

He said: “Prime Minister: this is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative party and most importantly of all the country. You must do the right thing and go now.”

However, he stopped short of resigning himself and still remains in place as finance minister. His position as chancellor remains uncertain at the current time but he has has already signalled a desire to cut taxes, commenting that, "I want to make sure we’re as competitive as we can be while maintaining fiscal discipline."

Watch: Nadhim Zahawi arrives at Treasury following appointment as chancellor

At Downing Street on Thursday, Johnson said that the process of choosing the new leader should begin now, and that the timetable will be announced next week.

At present, there is no clear candidate to replace him, with bookmakers fairly evenly torn between half a dozen or more candidates.

Suella Braverman, the attorney-general, has expressed an interest in the PM job and there will be others in the ring too.

Reports have also pointed to Penny Mordaunt, Ben Wallace, Tom Tugendhat and Jeremy Hunt. Others, including Steve Baker, have heavily hinted that they will stand.

Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, said deputy prime minister Dominic Raab should take over from Boris Johnson immediately on an interim basis, while Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's former right-hand man, also called for Raab to take on the job.

Read more: UK households face tax hikes to stop ‘unsustainable’ debt burden

“Until a clear favourite emerges, we won’t have any real read on potential policy implications,” Matthew Ryan, head of market strategy at Ebury.

“That said, we think that any policy changes will likely have limited implication for sterling, which we expect to be driven more by ongoing UK recession concerns and Bank of England monetary policy.”

Elsewhere, work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey says she will remain in office to ensure the "wheels of government keep turning".

In a tweet, she says she understands colleagues' concerns and "the very bad situation we are now in".

But she says her department needs to be "firing on all cylinders" to support the most vulnerable people in society. As Johnson announced his resignation, home secretary Priti Patel also said she would stay on.

Watch: Boris Johnson to resign amid political turmoil, multitude of scandals

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