The next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will inherit a mess that some members of the governing Conservative Party believe will be impossible to manage, media reports said.
With just six weeks until Boris Johnson's walks through the famous black door of 10 Downing Street, the two remaining candidates are making a bad situation worse by rubbing acid into the wounds of a party so badly divided it could be forced to call an early election and hope for the best, CNN reported.
Johnson's replacement will not be elected by the 47 million adults registered to vote, but by a much smaller group of around 160,000 grassroots Conservative Party members. The winner will be announced on September 5.
This means running on campaign issues that the candidates believe are most likely to appeal to this very small and hardly diverse group of people.
"The average age of a party member is late 50s. Just under half are of a pensionable age and they are predominately White," says Tim Bale, who is professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London and has studied the Conservative Party extensively.
"They mostly live in southern England and are (financially) comfortable. They support a strong line on law and order, they approve of low taxes but believe that public services are important and should be funded properly, especially schools, police and, of course, the health service," Bale adds.
Unsurprisingly, given the cost-of-living crisis, the main issue of debate has been how to handle the economy. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is one of the two, is calling for a different approach from Johnson's tax rises, and claims that cutting taxes immediately would create growth. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak argues that he believes this is fantasy economics, given the UK is still recovering from the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seconds after it was decided the final two were Truss and Sunak, an even less optimistic Conservative MP told CNN: "We've just lost the next election."
The job of reinventing and uniting the party, which has been struggling in the polls for months and publicly flagellating itself for almost as long, would be tough for anyone. It will be even harder for either of the leadership contenders, both of whom have their hands dirty from previous government jobs and whose supporters have been flinging mud at one another over a long, hot summer, CNN reported.
And if the warring factions cannot overcome these differences, they may find that they've wrecked their own chances of staying in power and hand the keys over to an opposition party that's been locked out of Downing Street since 2010, CNN reported.