Race to succeed Prime Minister Johnson starts with eight nominees


  • Field to replace Johnson as prime minister narrows to eight
  • Tax cut promises dominate contest
  • Favorite Sunak says inflation must be curbed

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) – Eight Conservatives will battle it out to replace Boris Johnson as party leader and British Prime Minister after winning enough nominations from their peers to advance to Wednesday’s first ballot.

Only two hopeful candidates failed to win the necessary 20 nominations, leaving a wide field of candidates seeking to win the party’s support with promises of tax cuts, fairness and serious government, unlike Johnson who was forced to announcing that he would resign after a string of scandals. read more

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak is the bookmakers’ favourite, and among those he will be taking on are his successor Nadhim Zahawi and foreign minister Liz Truss in what is becoming an increasingly spicier and divisive match.

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The next British leader faces a disheartening in-tray as support for the Conservatives is also dwindling, polls show.

Britain’s economy faces skyrocketing inflation, high debt and low growth, with people grappling with the tightest pressure on their finances in decades, all against the backdrop of an energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, leaving fuel prices have risen.

As the match progressed, rival campaigns staged personal criticism of each other and pointed to financial or other questions looming over their opponents.

Sunak kicked off his campaign by portraying himself as the serious candidate, promising “grown-up” honesty, “no fairytales”, in an attempt to contrast himself with the extensive tax cuts promised by most of the other candidates.

“It is not credible to promise much more spending and lower taxes,” said Sunak, who said tax cuts could only come after rising inflation was addressed.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak set Britain on track to face its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, and most other hopefuls have turned their fire on him, saying they would immediately oversee the austerity measures.

‘SOUND MONEY’

The former finance minister has the most support among colleagues who have expressed their views publicly.

Penny Mordaunt, a junior commerce secretary who is also heavily tipped, topped a poll by Conservative members on Monday and she, too, has tried to take a more moderate tone on the tax, saying that while she would cut taxes, “I will pioneer with sound money.”

“I am a small state, conservative with low taxes, but I also believe that we should use government levers to support jobs and livelihoods in difficult economic situations,” she wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Attorney General Suella Braverman, former health minister Jeremy Hunt, Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs committee, and Kemi Badenoch, a former secretary of state who is gaining support for the party’s right-wing, were among other candidates to participate. . the first round of the competition.

Secretary of State Truss was backed by two ministers closest to Johnson — Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg — who were both critical of Sunak on Tuesday.

The 1922 Committee of Conservative Members of Parliament hosting the contest says the field will be rapidly reduced in the coming weeks with repeated votes, with the last two being selected by the fewer than 200,000 party members on July 21.

The winner, and the new Prime Minister of Great Britain, will be announced on September 5. read more

Meanwhile, the opposition Labor party said the government had blocked its attempt to call a confidence vote in Johnson on Wednesday to immediately force him from office. read more

The government said it would allow Labor to call a confidence vote if the wording of the motion were changed to remove the reference to Johnson.

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Additional reporting by William James and Andrew MacAskill; Written by Michael Holden; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Alison Williams and David Evans

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