LONDON (AP) – Former head of the Treasury Department, Rishi Sunak, is a firm favorite to become Britain’s next prime minister within days – or even hours – after former leader Boris Johnson quit the leadership contest of the United Kingdom. Conservative Party.
After the resignation of Liz Truss last week, the ruling party will elect Britain’s third prime minister this year at a time of political turmoil and serious economic challenges.
Sunak, 42, is the only candidate with confirmed support from more than 100 lawmakers, the number needed to run in the election. House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has far fewer statements of support, but aims to hit the threshold by the time nominations close at 2 p.m.
If Mordaunt doesn’t make 100 nominations, Sunak wins by acclamation and can move into 10 Downing St. Monday night.
If both make it to the vote, the 357 Conservative lawmakers will hold an indicative vote Monday to show their preference. If neither of them drop out after that, the choice will go to the 172,000 party members across the country, with a result to be announced Friday.
Mordaunt will come under intense pressure to step aside and not force a membership vote if Sunak is the firm favorite among lawmakers.
Home Secretary Grant Shapps, a Sunak supporter, said the former Treasury chief didn’t think he had the match “in the bag”.
“He is speaking with colleagues this morning, he is working very hard to attract those supporters who may have been with Boris Johnson before,” Shapps said. “But look, I’ll leave it up to Penny, she’s a great colleague. Let’s wait and see what happens.”
Sunak, who finished second to Truss in the Tory leadership race to replace Johnson this summer, has pledged “integrity, professionalism and accountability” if he forms a government – a contrast to the chaos that has consumed the past two prime ministers.
Johnson dramatically retired from the race on Sunday night, ending a short-lived, high-profile attempt to return to the prime minister’s job from which he was expelled just over three months ago. amid ethical scandals.
Johnson spent the weekend trying to gain support from fellow conservative lawmakers after flying back from a Caribbean vacation. Late Sunday, he said he had amassed the support of 102 colleagues. But he was far behind Sunak in his support, saying he had come to the conclusion that “you can’t rule effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”
The prospect of Johnson’s return had thrown the already divided Conservative party into even more turmoil. He led the party to a sweeping election victory in 2019, but his premiership was overshadowed by money and ethics scandals that eventually became too much for the party to bear.
In his statement on Sunday, Johnson insisted he was “well placed to take a Conservative victory” in the next national election, scheduled for 2024. And he said he would likely have won a Conservative Party vote against one of his rivals.
“But in the course of the last few days I have unfortunately come to the conclusion that this just wouldn’t be the right choice,” he said.
He hinted that he might be back, saying, “I believe I have a lot to offer, but I’m afraid this just isn’t the right time.”
Truss resigned on Thursday after a turbulent 45 days in office, admitting she was unable to deliver on her failed economic package tax cuts, which she had to give up after it caused a stir within her party and weeks of financial market turmoil.
Sunak, who was head of the Treasury from 2020 to this summer, led Britain’s slumping economy from the coronavirus pandemic. He quit in July in protest against Johnson’s leadership.
The turmoil of the Conservative Party is fueling the demand for national elections. Under the UK parliamentary system, there won’t be one until the end of 2024, although the government has the power to call one earlier.
At the moment that seems unlikely. Opinion polls say an election would be disastrous for the Conservatives, with the left-wing Labor party winning a large majority.
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