New British foreign secretary might replace Theresa May, Russian expert says

The expert also said that London would continue to implement the Global Britain concept

Jeremy Hunt, who was appointed as British Foreign Office on Monday, enjoys the support of the public and might in time replace Theresa May as the country’s prime minister, Anna Vilovatykh, an expert at the Russian institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), told TASS on Tuesday.

"Many think high of Hunt as he is a capable person and some even see him as May’s successor as prime minister, although this is a long-term forecast," the expert said, commenting on Boris Johnson’s resignation caused by disagreements over the future relations between London and Brussels.

No policy changes

According to Vilovatykh, the appointment of a new foreign secretary will not make London change its foreign policy. In particular, a thaw in Russian-British relations can hardly be expected. "I would not say that the appointment of a new foreign secretary will change the entire British foreign policy, including the policy towards Russia. More likely it will remain as destructive as it has been recently," she noted.

The expert also said that London would continue to implement the Global Britain concept, which implies strengthening the country’s positions in various parts of the world.

Vilovatykh added that following the cabinet reshuffle, it would be easier for the British government to follow its path of withdrawal from the European Union and making a deal, as Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis had hindered those efforts. "If this plan fails, both Great Britain and the European Union will have to face far worse economic consequences," the expert said, adding that the time for talks was running out.

Domestic political crisis

In the Russian expert’s view, Great Britain is close to a political crisis but given the need to continue talks with Brussels, the incumbent prime minister is likely to maintain her position.

"I believe that domestic political struggle escalates at such moments. At the same time, if we speak about a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, it would be damaging, first and foremost, to the Conservative Party because it is clear that it will take time to appoint a new prime minister. Such a process usually takes at least three to four months, which means that no agreement with the Europeans will be ready by October," Vilovatykh pointed out.

"That leads to a conclusion that either the current developments are just a game played by some external actors or it is an accident triggered by a difficult political situation in the United Kingdom, which has been going on for a long time but has seldom revealed itself so clearly. So, there are various options," she added.

External interference

According to the expert, there are theories citing external interference in London’s domestic policy. "There are many theories about who is financing Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Some believe that it is [American billionaire George] Soros, while others say that the current US authorities are behind all that. In any case, these are just theories and one should not rely on them," Vilovatykh concluded.

UK cabinet reshuffle

On July 8, British Brexit Minister David Davis resigned over disagreements with the government’s policy, as Eurosceptics, Davis included, view the Brexit plan presented on July 6 as a major concession to Brussels, particularly as far as access to the EU common market and customs union is concerned. According to media reports, Boris Johnson also strongly criticized the plan. He, in turn, resigned on July 9.

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