They are the three politicians competing for the U.K’s highest office, and the winner could have a dramatic impact on the pound and markets. One is a jam-making Arsenal fan, another has dual U.S. citizenship, while the third is a marathon runner.
The characters of the main contenders to become Britain’s next prime minister are about as diverse as their political views.
While Donald Trump polarized U.S. public opinion prior to Election Day, and after, the reality, according to voter research from 2002, is that people vote on policies, not personality.
An academic study called Leaders’ Personalities and the Outcomes of Democratic Elections, edited by Anthony King, analyzed the impact of candidate character in six countries: the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Russia.
“The impact of personality on individual voters’ decisions is usually quite small,” that report concluded, and “more often than not, it cancels out.”
If this voter behavior holds true nearly two decades on, it may come as a relief to the U.K. politicians vying for votes this week.
Here’s a down-and-dirty guide to everything you need to know about the main contenders:
Boris Johnson, prime minister and Conservative Party leader: Johnson was born in America and has joint citizenship. After studying classics at Oxford University, he undertook a career as a journalist and commentator and has had many of his irreverent musings thrown back at him during his campaigns for office.
He has used humor and hijinks to win over the public, most notably getting stuck on a zip line while mayor of London. He lives with girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, and comes from an illustrious family — brother Jo is a politician (he quit as a Tory MP and cabinet minister in September), and sister Rachel is a commentator.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader: Corbyn is a former trade-union representative who has seen membership of his party increase sharply since taking the helm four years ago. The Arsenal-supporting vegetarian, who makes his own jam, has been a strong advocate of peace and has taken Labour from a more liberal center ground further left.
He is hoping to be elected on a manifesto promising “real change.” But his ideas to tackle poverty and inequality are controversial. Critics see him as anti-capitalist, while supporters view him as a conviction politician. His facial hair has won the Parliamentary Beard of the Year competition eight times.
Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrats: Born in Scotland, the leader of what was once Britain’s third biggest party has a background working in marketing.
A marathon runner who was first elected in 2005 at the age of just 25 is an outlier next week. She lost her seat in 2015 and won it back in 2017, becoming leader of the Liberals this year.
Swinson has taken a punchy stance on Brexit, promising to revoke the 2016 referendum decision without a second vote — in sharp contrast to our final personality, who is shaking things up but cannot be elected prime minister, because he is not standing for election.
Nigel Farage, Brexit Party: This former commodities broker who has struck up an unlikely friendship with President Trump is even more of an outlier.
Farage has failed to win any of the elections in which he has stood to be a member of Parliament and has given up personally competing in next week’s poll. However, he remains the leader of the Brexit Party and can claim some credit for securing the 2016 referendum win.
While his international profile seems to have had more success than his prowess at the polls, he has the admiration of Trump, who recent appeared on a radio show that Farage was hosting.