A New Prime Minister’s First Day in No. 10: A Step-By-Step Guide
(Bloomberg) -- Fear unlike any other and an odd sense of loneliness are the feelings former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher described of their first day in Number 10 Downing Street.
For Winston Churchill in 1940, his overriding emotion was profound relief that he was finally able to take charge.
Boris Johnson, the favorite to become Britain’s new premier on July 24, may also feel excitement and perhaps even a daunting sense of responsibility if he wins after months of campaigning against his Conservative Party rivals.
With exactly 100 days to the next Brexit deadline of Oct. 31, Johnson, or his rival Jeremy Hunt, will need to hit the ground running. But first the winner must go through an induction that involves meeting Queen Elizabeth II, picking his top team and learning the nuclear codes.
While the Tory party will announce their new leader on the morning of 23 July, Theresa May won’t hand over until the following day. Here’s how it could happen.
An Audience With the Queen
May will visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon to tender her resignation. This will take place in a one-to-one meeting, known as an audience. The Queen, 93, has postponed her holiday to Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, in order to ensure she will be in London for the occasion, which is officially on her invitation.
Once May leaves, the new Conservative leader will arrive at the Palace to “kiss hands” with the Queen and she’ll ask him to form a government. While she’s politically neutral, she can issue advice and warnings. Gordon Brown said he and the Queen had a “businesslike” conversation about the work ahead.
If Johnson wins, he and the Queen may have more to talk about as he’s kept open the option of suspending Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit. Only the Queen has the power to suspend Parliament in this way, and Johnson’s threat has caused outrage among some in the Tory party who say it would put the Monarch in an impossible political position.
Back to Number 10
The new prime minister will then return to Number 10 Downing Street in an official car, with full police security protection. He is likely to give a speech outside outlining the key priorities of his premiership.
When he walks through the front door of Number 10 the entire permanent staff will be standing there applauding. Then he’ll be greeted by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, the most senior civil servant in the U.K., who will rush him into a series of meetings and briefings on security and nuclear weapons.
One of his first acts will be to hand-write the sealed instructions for the commanders of Britain’s nuclear-armed submarines telling them what to do if the U.K. government is wiped out in an attack.
The new leader will also receive congratulatory calls from foreign leaders -- the U.S. president is usually first and the two may discuss an early visit to Washington D.C. EU leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel may also want to press their Brexit position on him as they welcome him into the new job.
Picking The Team
The new prime minister will be propelled into “high octane HR” according to Catherine Haddon, senior fellow at the Institute for Government think tank. He’ll need to appoint ministers into his cabinet and choose the officials around him, which could take several days.
This process will be crucial for setting the tone of his government. “These are the people who are the proxies for the prime minister, who speak for him when he’s not around,” Haddon said.
“It’s not just how he relates to them but how they work together. There’s going to be a lot of people looking for a reward. You need the right mix and he’s not going to have a second chance,” she said.
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