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Following Boris Johnson’s resignation, who could replace him as Prime Minister?

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MOST prime ministers would have resigned over any one of the scandals to engulf Boris Johnson’s government. Johnson, never one for tradition or rules, rode out nearly every crisis – but the Chris Pincher affair was the final straw.

Led by Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, over 50 members of Johnson’s government resigned in a day and a half. Johnson has now resigned as party leader, vowing to remain PM until a new leader is chosen.

Johnson was not a typical leader, and his successor will have a difficult job.

They will need to strengthen the Conservative party before the next general election (which could come sooner rather than later).

They will need to distance themselves from the more problematic aspects of Johnson’s legacy, while steadying the ship and appealing to the electorate.

Here are the likely runners and riders for this seemingly impossible task:

Ben Wallace

While not perhaps as well known as some of the candidates, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is considered a serious contender. He has been pivotal in the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was clear in the run-up to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan that action was needed to evacuate UK citizens and others in danger. He did not resign from Johnson’s cabinet, which might count against him, but he certainly looks like a strong candidate. Early polling suggests Wallace is the candidate to beat, but the campaign will test his early popularity.

Penny Mordaunt

Minister of State for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt is not necessarily a household name, but she is very respected within the Conservative party. Mordaunt was a short-lived but well-respected defence minister and recently Royal Navy reservist. She previously served as secretary of state for international development (before the department was merged with the Foreign Office). Like Wallace, Mordaunt stuck by Johnson over the last few days, but her popularity within the party might allow her to overcome that issue, particularly if she can play up her pro-Brexit credentials.

Rishi Sunak

The former chancellor was considered the leader in waiting in the early stages of the pandemic. His early successes with the furlough scheme elevated his status and profile, but his star faded fairly quickly. Questions over his wife’s tax status and wealth generally made Sunak seem out of touch with voters. He was also, along with Johnson, fined by police over lockdown parties in Downing Street. While he remains a strong candidate, he might have wished that his opportunity to stand for leader had come sooner.

Sajid Javid

Javid has the distinction of having resigned from a Johnson cabinet twice. His first resignation, from his role as chancellor just before the pandemic, was driven by his desire to appoint his own staff. He was invited back into cabinet after Matt Hancock’s resignation. While considered by many within the party as a very capable MP, with a working-class background that would count in his favour, some worry Javid showed a lack of judgment in rejoining the Johnson cabinet.

Nadhim Zahawi

Zahawi came to public prominence when he spearheaded the vaccine rollout. His time as education secretary has been viewed positively, but his move to the Treasury less than two days before telling Johnson to resign have made some question his motives. Perception that he allowed personal ambition to override his moral compass is likely to hurt Zahawi. He will need to answer for this when asked by the party and country.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was out of the country for Johnson’s downfall. She returns as a possible contender for party leadership.

Liz Truss

Currently overseas on official business, the foreign secretary will undoubtedly be thankful not to have been caught up in the chaos of this week. But is she too absent? While considered by many a “safe pair of hands” she is not a dynamic candidate for leader, and it is doubtful whether she can become an electoral asset to the party. If the Conservatives want a safe choice instead of another “exciting” leader to follow Johnson, Truss may have a shot.

Dominic Raab

The deputy prime minister is another potential leader in waiting. He has occupied a number of cabinet roles including secretary of state for Brexit, foreign secretary and now justice minister. While he certainly has a high-ranking position, he has had a number of missteps. As Brexit minister, he finished off the negotiations his predecessor David Davis began, then resigned because he couldn’t accept the deal he helped to finalise. As foreign secretary, he was criticised for his lack of speed during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. That, coupled with his earlier comments calling British workers the “worst idlers in the world” before he joined the cabinet, make him a long shot for Downing Street.

The rest of the pack

On the backbenches, there are expected to be at least three potential candidates – former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, prominent Brexiteer Steve Baker, and well-respected backbench MP Tom Tugendhat. For any backbencher wanting to catapult themselves into Downing Street, the ride is likely to be bumpy. A track record of success is usually needed. This is harder for a backbencher, either because they have never been in cabinet, or because they have left cabinet (usually after being asked to). These individuals have a long road ahead of them.

There will be others who may want to scope out their prospects with the party. Cabinet secretaries Priti Patel or even Jacob Rees-Mogg might test the water, but they are likely to find it cold.

The battle ahead will inevitably have its twists and turns, and it is almost impossible to predict the outcome. Many within the Conservative party, and perhaps the country, will be hoping for less exciting times than they have recently lived through.

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Charity

Co op helps out two Llandeilo community volunteer groups

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LLANDEILO Co op store manager Chris Rees and Member Pioneer Christoph Fischer successfully secured Co op funding for two Llandeilo community groups: “Friends of Llandyfeisant Church” and the “Dinefwr Orchadeers”.

Friends of Llandyfeisant Church was set up to restore the beautiful Llandyfeisant Church on the Dinefwr Park estate. The volunteers want to bring this unused building back into use for the community. “We’re currently restoring the floor according to the Listed Buildings specification, which is costly and labour intense,” explains Dafydd Thomas from the group. 

“The church is no longer consecrated but it would be wonderful for many other events.”

The group has a busy Facebook page and many supporters, locally and from further afield.

The Dinefwr Orchardeers are a community volunteer group based at Dinefwr Home Farm, looking after a 3-acre orchard of heritage apple and pear trees. They hire out fruit milling and pressing equipment to local fruit tree / orchard owners, run a cider club and recently built a juicing room. The money will be spent on aprons and juicing equipment.

“We would love you to join or observe our weekly orchard management sessions” says Philip James. “You can learn, amongst other activities, to prune, harvest and juice.”

“At the Co op we’re proud to support local initiatives and projects,” says store manager Chris Rees. “We have three local causes every year who get 2% of money spent by members in the store on co op products, but we also can help with ad hoc projects.”

“We encourage local groups to come forward if they wish to apply for either type of funds,” says Member Pioneer Christoph Fischer. “My role in the co op is to liaise with community groups and lend them our support.”

To join or meet the Orchadeers, please call Philip on 01558 685746.

To become a member or volunteer with Friends of Llandyfeisant Church, visit their Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/280218132732204 or email info@friendsofllandyfeisantchurch.org

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Education

St. Michaels School celebrates excellent A-Level results

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St. Michael’s pupils with their A-Level results

ST. MICHAEL’S School, Llanelli, is extremely pleased to announce another year of successful A-Level results, with 80.2% of all grades awarded either an A* or A grade.

The vast majority of pupils have earned a place at their chosen university to study courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Economics.

This is the first year that traditional exams have resumed since the Covid-19 pandemic began with the majority of lessons in the first part of the A-Level being delivered online rather than in a classroom environment. This makes the results even more of an achievement considering the circumstances.

Headmaster Mr Benson Ferrari said: “We offer our sincere congratulations to our outgoing Year 13 class on the publication of their A-Level results, demonstrating that our pupils have worked so hard despite the challenges of returning to a conventional assessment approach.

“They approached the situation with resilience and dedication, which has resulted in grades that are truly representative of their ability.  I am confident that they will all go onto achieve great things at university and in their working lives.  

“We wish them the best as they move to this new and exciting stage of their education.  The preparation which St. Michael’s has provided will be built upon, along with our values and principles providing a lasting framework to tackle the challenges ahead.”

In 2020, St. Michael’s School was awarded The Sunday Times Welsh Independent School of the Decade and this was in part due to the excellent exam results that the school receives each year. 

St. Michael’s was also ranked 13th in The Times 2019 Co Ed League Table for UK Independent Schools, which was the last time that the results were published. The school hopes that this year’s results will continue to secure their place in the 2022 league table which will be published later this year.

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News

Former Debenhams building to be used to bring together key public services all under one roof

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Former Debenhams store

LOCAL public service providers are working together on an exciting new venture to take over the former Debenhams building in Carmarthen.

The Carmarthen Hwb aims to bring health, wellbeing, learning and cultural services all under one roof.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council have secured £19.9million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to create town centre hubs in South West Wales.

The hubs will benefit local residents, businesses, and visitors, and create a more diverse and sustainable mix of uses for Carmarthen and Pembroke town centres.

The Carmarthen Hwb will be developed in the former Debenhams building in St Catherine’s Walk, in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David alongside other service providers.

It will be the first venture of its kind in Carmarthenshire, bringing together a range of key public services under one roof providing convenience and a space for people to relax and enjoy their leisure time.

The proposals include state-of-the-art leisure, culture and exhibition space alongside health and tourist information, customer services as well as access to further and higher education delivered by the UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr.

The aim is to complement what is already on offer in the town centre and to increase footfall for local businesses.

The project will receive £3.5million match funding from the council’s capital budget.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John said: “We are delighted to be working with our public sector partners on this ground-breaking project which will bring this prime commercial space back into use to help boost the local economy and transform the town centre.

“One of the main aims of our post-pandemic economic recovery plan is to strengthen the vitality and longevity of our town centres and by delivering a new mix of services to the traditional high street, we can attract more people and help to increase footfall for neighbouring shops and businesses.

“People will be able to call in to the Carmarthen Hwb to access health and social care services, a state-of-the-art town centre gym, access to employment support and public services, as well as university facilities and lifelong learning opportunities.

“It could also provide a more central home for some of our museum collections, with exhibition space, and act as a welcome point for visitors to the town.

“It is important that we work with local businesses on this project which will add value to the products and services already on offer in the town centre to encourage more people into town, and in turn increase trade for everyone.”

Lee Davies, Executive Director of Strategic Development and Operational Planning at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We’re excited to be working with our partners on the Carmarthen Hwb development. The new facility is an important part of our strategy for a healthier mid and west Wales, bringing health and well-being closer to home for our communities. It will provide a range of health, well-being, learning and cultural services to help people of all ages access key services all in one place.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the UWTSD Group said: “The University is delighted to be part of this exciting project. It offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with partners to revitalise our town centres by offering a mix of leisure, cultural and education opportunities to benefit residents and businesses.  The University looks forward to working with Carmarthenshire County Council on realising the vision for the Carmarthen Hwb.”

The project is complementary to a similar scheme at South Quay, in Pembroke town centre, which formed part of the bid to the Levelling Up Fund.

Both projects aim to bring health and wellbeing into the centres of the two neighbouring towns, creating an inclusive public service offer that meets changing local needs and which helps drive footfall and environmental benefit.

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