Reason Roundup

Boris Johnson Is Out as Britain's Prime Minister. Who Will Replace Him?

Plus: Why one pitcher wants the MLB to stop COVID testing, how shipping industry protectionism is slowing aid to Ukraine, and more...


Bor-exit has begun.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who guided the United Kingdom through its controversial departure from the European Union, is hitting the bricks in London. But just like his signature policy accomplishment, which seemed to take forever to actually get finalized, Johnson's departure from 10 Downing Street looks like it will play out in slow motion. As a result, it could be months before a new prime minister is named.

Traditionally, outgoing prime ministers remain in office until their successors are chosen—and Johnson said Thursday that he intends to do the same. But Parliament is on its summer holiday at the moment, and the internal Conservative Party process for picking a new head of government might not be completed until October, according to the BBC. If more than two candidates stand for the office, Conservatives in Parliament will hold a series of votes to narrow the field. Then, the party's roughly 200,000 card-carrying members will vote by mail to determine the winner.

It's possible that Conservatives will try to accelerate that process as much as possible. Kwasi Kwarteng, a Tory member of Parliament, tweeted Thursday that the party should choose a new leader "as soon as practicable." Meanwhile, leaders of the opposition Labour Party threatened to call for a Parliament-wide vote of no confidence, which would force Johnson to step down immediately if a majority voted to give him the boot.

Another complication is the lack of a clear successor within the Conservative Party's ranks, creating a potentially messy leadership battle.

Suella Braverman, the current attorney general for England and Wales (in the British system, the attorney general is a member of Parliament; yeah, it's weird), threw her hat into the ring on Wednesday, a full day before Johnson announced his resignation. She's a second-generation immigrant and a Brexit hardliner who came to prominence in British politics for opposing softer Brexit deals that the previous prime minister, Theresa May, tried to strike before being replaced by Johnson.

Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative M.P. who opposed Brexit and frequently clashed with Johnson, has also announced his intentions to run for prime minister, according to the Associated Press.

Undeclared candidates who could become front-runners include two prominent lawmakers whose resignations from positions in Johnson's government prompted this week's chaos—Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. However it shakes out, the potentially dozen-or-so candidates vying to replace Johnson will reflect a changing British society and evolving Conservative Party, notes The New York Times. The race could include "a son of Indian immigrants, an Iraqi refugee, a number of women and a son of a Pakistani bus driver."

Jeremy Hunt, who finished second to Johnson in the leadership contest in 2019, is also likely to run. He's been an outspoken critic of the British government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—"I actually thought we could have avoided all lockdowns if we had been much quicker and set up test and trace as they did in South Korea and Taiwan," he said in May. On other issues, he's "seen as a moderate and is positioning himself as a safe pair of hands to replace the more erratic Johnson," Axios reports.

Another candidate libertarians may want to keep their eyes on is Steve Baker, the Conservative M.P. who has gained a reputation for being a rebellious and independent voice in Parliament. He's an avowed follower of Austrian economics and uses "Enjoy Freedom Responsibly" as a campaign slogan. "Some people I deeply respect are telling me, even imploring me, to [run for prime minister]," Baker told BBC Radio on Thursday.

Still, the end of the Johnson premiership is a bittersweet moment for libertarians, Robert Jackman writes for Reason: "For all his association with liberty-crushing lockdowns, many of us still remember when Johnson was a darling of the freedom-loving right. He used to be the politician who made his career rallying against the excesses of the nanny state while thumbing his nose at bores and bureaucrats alike."

It was those impulses that made Johnson an effective campaigner for Brexit. But after finalizing Britain's departure from the E.U., Johnson governed more like a mainstream politician—a tendency that led him to some very unlibertarian places during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also supported policies that grew government budgets, expanded tax coffers, and even attempted to tell Brits how to eat better by banning television ads for "crisps" (known to us Yanks as "potato chips").

"For all his promise, the truth is that Johnson—the supposed savior of the Tory right—will end up leaving behind a Britain considerably less free than the one he inherited," Jackman writes. "Many will continue to praise him for delivering Brexit, but this misses the point. While the U.K. may be out of the E.U. legal orbit, we've done almost nothing to take advantage of it, retaining the vast majority of the regulations that Johnson used to rail against so persuasively."


The MLB should "just stop testing" for COVID-19, says New York Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt, who missed a start last week after testing positive despite having no symptoms.

Bassitt told ESPN on Thursday that he "probably won't" inform team and league officials if he tests positive again unless he actually feels sick. Because a positive test can force a player into a regime of additional testing, Bassitt said the league's system could force an asymptomatic player to miss multiple games for merely trying to follow the rules. It's a dilemma, and frustration, to which anyone who's had to deal with a positive COVID-19 test recently can relate.

"Just stop testing. Stop acting like COVID is far worse than a lot of other things," Bassitt said. "I was never sick."

Sports have been at the forefront of America's evolving response to COVID-19 since the NBA shut down in March 2020 as the pandemic hit. Last fall, the NFL's decision to stop regularly testing vaccinated players (focusing only on those who showed symptoms) paralleled the country's evolution away from social restrictions and mask mandates.

Bassitt's comments could represent the next step in the slog toward normalcy as (thankfully) less dangerous strains of COVID-19 continue to circulate.


Humanitarian aid to Ukraine will be delayed and made more costly by protectionist shipping rules:


Shinzo Abe was assassinated while giving a speech. Abe was Japan's longest-serving prime minister before he stepped down from the post in 2020.

A 41-year-old suspect has been arrested, and some early reports indicate that the weapon might have been a homemade shotgun.


• President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Friday directing the Department of Health and Human Services to take several steps intended to protect access to abortions and contraception.

• Despite fears of a coming recession, the U.S. economy added 372,000 jobs in June, the Department of Labor reported Friday morning. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent.

• American basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia, further complicating the diplomatic situation created by her arrest in February.

• Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter might be falling apart. A source in Musk's camp told The Washington Post that the social media site's data on spam accounts is unverifiable.

• Scientists may have finally figured out why T. rex had those famously short arms.