Race for UK PM: Rishi Sunak tops second round voting
By securing 101 votes in Thursday's second round of voting, former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak cemented his lead in the contest to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and UK prime minister. He's up against trade minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who announced in her campaign earlier that she was the only candidate to make the required "tough decisions."
- Sunak resigned as Finance Minister on July 5, Tuesday, in protest of the Johnson-led administration's misconduct in the United Kingdom (UK), including sexual misconduct by a senior government member.
- Although Johnson will continue as a caretaker Prime Minister (PM) till the Conservatives elect their new leader, Sunak is seen as the leading contender to succeed the US-born Johnson as the UK's 78th PM.
Sunak thanked his supporters on Twitter after maintaining his lead in the latest round, stating, "I am prepared to give everything I have in service to our nation. Together we can restore trust, rebuild our economy, and reunite the country." Earlier, he declared that his top economic priority would be combating rising inflation, not the tax cuts promised by his opponents.
Truss, the final candidate to launch a campaign, is the most recent to pledge to restore trust in politics, similar to Sunak, attempting to distance herself from the bitter briefings and counter-briefings between opposing camps. "I will campaign as a Conservative...I will govern as a Conservative." Truss stated. When asked why she didn't resign when Johnson lost support, she said, "I'm a loyal person."
Suella Braverman, the Attorney General with Indian ancestry and the candidate with the fewest votes (27) after the latest round was eliminated from the race for the Tory leadership, leaving only five candidates. The next few rounds of voting by Conservative Party legislators to reduce this list to just two candidates by next Thursday, July 21, are scheduled to take place next week.
On Monday, Conservative legislators will vote for a third time on the remaining candidates, including ex-equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat. In every round until July 21, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated if all candidates reach 30 votes. The new leader will then be selected by the 200,000 party members and announced on September 5.
The former British Indian Chancellor and son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, Sunak appears to be one of the final contestants to hit the campaign trail around the UK for hustings to persuade the wider Conservative Party membership. While Penny Mordaunt has also been polling well among the party's electorate, some of her contentious views on LGBTQ rights have raised eyebrows among her colleagues.
The race has now narrowed to a three-way contest between Sunak, Mordaunt, and Truss, with the others expected to back one of these three candidacies in the hope of obtaining a decent Cabinet post under the new leader. Meanwhile, the British economy is beset by spiraling inflation, high debt, and low growth, leaving people grappling with the tightest financial squeeze in decades.