Tracking Britain's two weeks of political carnage

By Griff Witte, Max Bearak

Britain's Home Secretary, Theresa May, came out on top after a Westminster episode of Game of Thrones. Photo / AP
Britain's Home Secretary, Theresa May, came out on top after a Westminster episode of Game of Thrones. Photo / AP

It has only been two weeks since the world awoke to the news that Britain had done the unthinkable, voting to exit the European Union.

But you'd need a comprehensive scorecard to keep track of all the carnage since among those who led the charge for Brexit. The betrayals and the backstabbing. The revenge and the retribution.

And with Andrea Leadsom's announcement that she will effectively cede the race for Conservative Party leadership to Theresa May, an ironic truth has come to pass: Despite being given a mandate by the British people, it won't even be someone from the Leave campaign who leads Britain's process of leaving.

To be sure, some "Leavers" tried. But the Conservative Party seems as divided as the British public - both split almost evenly on whether leaving the EU is a good idea. And the party members who voted for their new leader ultimately didn't choose those "Leavers," like Michael Gove and Leadsom.

On the other hand, it seemed like other Leave campaigners self-destructed as soon as they'd won. It is a truly confusing situation.

If you haven't been following closely, here's a quick summary of what's befallen the actors in this very British drama.


Who is he? He's the man who would have been king, the onetime prohibitive favourite to be the next prime minister.

Who betrayed him? Michael Gove, Johnson's would-be campaign manager and chum from his Oxford days. Gove's last-minute announcement that he would run for prime minister knocked Johnson from the contest even before he could enter.

Did he get his revenge? Sort of. He endorsed Andrea Leadsom for prime minister. (See below.)


Britain's Justice Secretary Michael Gove. Photo / AP
Britain's Justice Secretary Michael Gove. Photo / AP

Who is he? The Brutus of British politics

Whom did he betray? Johnson. But to Gove it was not a betrayal. It was high-minded service to his country.

And how did that work out for him? Not well. He got knocked out of the balloting to be prime minister after Johnson backed Leadsom and other Tories recoiled at Gove's perceived treachery.


Who is he? The bloke at the pub who changed British history by spending decades crusading for Brexit. Then when it happened, he promptly quit politics because he said he wanted his life back.

Who betrayed him? Douglas Carswell, the only member of Farage's party who holds a seat in Parliament. The two are longtime antagonists.


What are they? The influential, mass-selling British tabloids that championed Brexit with greater gusto than even many of the most ardent Leave politicians.

Whom did they betray? Leadsom. With the contest for prime minister down to the pro-Leave Leadsom and the pro-Remain Theresa May, whom do they back? May, of course.


Conservative leadership contender Andrea Leadsom. Photo / AP
Conservative leadership contender Andrea Leadsom. Photo / AP

Who is she? A complete unknown of British politics.

Who betrayed her? The Daily Mail and the Sun. And then she dug herself into a hole by telling the Times that she thought she'd be a better leader than May because she has children and May doesn't. She was recorded saying that being a mother "means you have a very real stake in the future of our country," and then tried to claim she'd never said that despite it being on tape. She stepped out of the race citing "too much abuse" that she'd had to go through.

- Washington Post

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