Paris: Duel for British Conservative Party leadership and succession to Boris Johnson Ex-Finance Minister conflict Rishi SunakTo the current Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss. Conservative MPs decided that yesterday in a fifth and final vote in Parliament. The final decision, to be announced on September 5, is now in the hands of 200,000 party supporters.
Sunak and Truss were finalists for an outspoken campaign that began on July 7 after Johnson’s resignation, which was unraveled by scandals and lies. Conservative MPs voted on Wednesday for the last time, and now until September 3, voting will take place by correspondence to party members across the country.
Although no one would dare to predict, one thing is already certain: the next British government will be led for the first time in history by a non-white man or woman for the third time. The former finance minister had won first place in Tuesday’s vote, ahead of the Secretary of State for International Trade, Penny Mordaunt, and closely followed by Britain’s head of diplomacy. In the final vote that eliminated Mordaunt, Sunak received 137 votes to Truss’s 113.
Like him, in attendance at the last questions session of the House of Representatives in his capacity as Prime Minister, “Hasta la vista, baby!” Johnson said goodbye loudly and unexpectedly. (in Spanish, phrase from the movie finish 2), without forgetting some advice for his successor in this role: “Stay close to the Americans, support the Ukrainians, and fight for freedom and democracy everywhere. Lower taxes and deregulation where you can make this a better country to live and invest in.”
Adding that sometimes it is necessary “not to listen to the treasury”, he advised the outgoing prime minister to “always look very carefully in the rear-view mirror”. The irony is clearly directed at his former minister, whom he considers a “traitor” according to the few allies who still have left him.
Sunak, 42 years old His resignation at the beginning of July helped bring down Johnson, he emerged as the favorite from the first day of voting in Parliament, despite the more right-wing sector of the party, which did everything in their power to block his advance. But victory is by no means certain for this young millionaire, whose popularity among the party base is less than among the deputies. According to a poll published by YouGov yesterday, Sunak should be widely defeated in the final vote, with 35% of the vote against 54% for Truss. The same result was obtained by the Conservative Home poll, but with a smaller difference: the former finance chief would receive 42% of the vote against 49% for Truss.
Truss, 46, who was judged unconvincing last week, has managed to secure positions and could win the votes of Kimi Badenouche, who is ineligible on the third ballot and the right-wing representative of the Conservative Party – like her.
The surprise came when 49-year-old Benny Mordaunt, the favorite by YouGov, was eliminated in last week’s poll. It is true that the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade was judged inaccurate and unconvincing in the two discordant debates, but others asserted that there had been unacceptable low blows against her. Conservative MP David Davis, the former official in charge of Brexit negotiations, accused Sunak of trying to “pivot” some of his votes towards Truss, in order to eliminate Mordaunt, considering her more difficult to defeat. “It’s the dirtiest campaign I’ve ever seen,” Davis said.
A crisis of confidence and issues of integrity characterized this very short campaign. All the candidates claim to want to turn the page on Johnson’s era of scandal and lies. They also discussed widely how they intend to lower the cost of living, which is stifling British households, while inflation continued to rise in June, reaching 9.4% annually.
From now on, both candidates will have to tour England to impress the hardliners. Sunak will do so with a reputation for efficiency gained during the turbulent pandemic years, when he had to manage finances. However, she will be punished for her elitist image. A graduate of the best international institutions, a successful manager of investment funds, married to the daughter of one of the richest men in India, the recent controversy over his wife’s privileged tax status has reinforced the sense of separation that pervades public opinion.
A new debate will take place between the two finalists next Monday on the BBC from Stoke-on-Trent, a city in central England that voted by more than 69% in favor of Brexit in the 2016 referendum.