As the UK Conservative Party's leadership race enters its final days, both candidates - Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson - are promising to leave the European Union - even without a deal, if push comes to shove.
But while it was Theresa May's failure to gain parliamentary approval for her Brexit agreement with Brussels that opened up the contest, the long-term success of whoever wins, if Britain manages to leave the EU, will rest on what kind of trade deals he can cut outside Europe, especially with the US and China.
Johnson is Washington's favourite candidate. US President Donald Trump has described the fellow wispy blonde Johnson as a friend would make a "great" prime minister.
The New York-born Johnson only gave up his American citizenship a couple of years ago, and that was because of a dual taxation issue.
"Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He has been very, very nice to me, very supportive," Trump said in July last year after Johnson resigned foreign secretary over May's handling of Britain's attempt to leave the EU.
And despite the recent exchange of words with Beijing over the Hong Kong protests, Hunt, who voted to remain in the EU, will carry more leverage in China - not least because his wife is Chinese.
Only 170,000 Conservative Party members are eligible to vote, with the results expected on June 23, but media interest in the election has been unprecedented.
Trump has loomed large throughout the drawn out process that has sometimes seemed like a US television game show than a serious political contest.
Last week, Johnson came under fire for not standing up strongly enough to defend Kim Darroch, the now former British ambassador to Washington.
Darroch resigned after a series of insulting tweets from Trump following leaked files from the former ambassador calling Trump's administration "weak and inept".
"He (Johnson) has looked more like a puppy licking at the feet of his demanding and abusive master," wrote The New Yorker magazine political columnist John Cassidy.
It was the climate created by the 2016 Brexit referendum, of which Johnson was one of the main architects, that helped pave the way for Trump's victory in the US election.
In the final media hustings of the election contest Monday, both men condemned Trump's tweets at the weekend telling four congresswomen criticising his immigration policies to leave America if they don't like it - even though three were born in the US.
Hunt said he would be offended if someone said that to his three mixed-race children. Johnson said the president's language was "totally unacceptable".
But neither specifically criticised Trump, as May did which is understandable. Whoever wins will have to deal with the US president.
According to an article in The Times on Monday, Johnson, who is the favourite to win, plans to fly to the US as early as September to reset relations with Washington.
Formal trade negotiations can't take place until the UK has actually left the EU. The current deadline for doing that is October 31, but Johnson hopes to smooth the way with a limited agreement with the US before that, The Times reported Johnson's aides as saying.
Anything can happen with the shifting sands of the Trump administration. But according to correspondence seen by The Sunday Telegraph, a post-Brexit trade deal will rest on the new prime minister's willingness to fall in line with US restrictive policies against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
The UK has still to make a formal announcement on whether to allow Huawei to take part in building its 5G network.
Only last month China's ambassador to London warned the UK that if it prevented Huawei from developing 5G networks then Chinese trade and investment with the UK would suffer.
"It will send a very bad message not only to Huawei but also to Chinese businesses," ambassador Liu Xiaoming told the BBC adding that it would lead to "bad effects not only on trade but also on investment".
Johnson, who is backed by China hawks like MP Bob Seely, seems prepared to take a hard line on Huawei.
"You would not expect the UK to do anything to compromise its vital national security infrastructure," he said recently.
"And you would not expect me as prime minister to do anything to compromise the ability of our fantastic intelligence services to share information as they do particularly with our five eyes partners, so that is the principle that will guide us."
The US has said if the UK does involve Huawei in its 5G roll-out, it may no longer be able to share intelligence with its old ally.
Hunt has also called for caution regarding Huawei, but has been less definitive, saying the final decision has to be based both on technical considerations as well as strategic ones.
Both leadership candidates expressed support for the protesters in Hong Kong. But as the current foreign secretary, it was Hunt who received the wrath of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang who accused him of "fantasising in the faded glory of British colonialism".
But in the Tory leadership race, Hunt's wife Lucia Guo, who is said to be extremely intelligent, is often referred to as his "secret weapon".
Hunt met Guo in Warwick, England, in 2008. At the time, he was 41 and Lucia was 30. She was working for the University of Warwick, helping to recruit Chinese students to come and study there and he was running Hotcourses, the education company he co-founded.
A year later, the son of a former commander of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt, married Luo in a full Chinese ceremony in Xian where her family live.
He later sold Hotcourses to an Australian company for GBP14.5 million (US$18 million).
"She's massively more charismatic than me, she's an amazing woman, I'm very lucky to have her," Hunt said of his wife Monday.
There is absolutely no evidence to back up claims by some conspiracy theorists that Hunt was in cahoots with the Chinese government.
His domestic situation however makes it likely he will be more fine-tuned to Chinese sensitivities.
And as a close friend of David Cameron, who spearheaded the UK's new "golden era" in bilateral relations with China when he was prime minister, Beijing would likely find Hunt an easier customer than his rival Johnson.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli