UK leadership race turns Conservative Party colleagues into rivals

Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss during Britain’s Next Prime Minister: ITV Debate at Riverside Studios on July 17, 2022 in London, England.

Handout | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

The battle to become Britain’s next prime minister heated up over the weekend, as five candidates vying for the leadership of the Conservative Party looked more like enemies than colleagues during a televised debate on Sunday. Japan.

On issues ranging from taxes to transfers, those who want to replace Boris Johnson have clashed at various points in the leadership debate. In a somewhat bizarre scene. the candidates – some of them ministerial colleagues just weeks ago – have openly questioned each other’s records of tenure, ideological views and past policies and proposals. .

In particular, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who both served in Johnson’s government and are the remaining political heavyweights in the race, have set a controversial tone. for the debate at the outset.

Truss accused Sunak of raising taxes to a 70-year high and said the policy “wouldn’t boost economic growth.”

Sunak (one of the bookie’s favorite contenders for the top spot) defended his record, saying the Covid pandemic was a major economic challenge and debts had to be paid. He also re-emphasized what he described as Truss’ “nothing-to-do economy” which he said was the equivalent of socialism.

The televised debate is also an opportunity for three less well-known candidates – former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch, Foreign Select Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt, an International Trade Secretary – to give How the Conservatives and the British public see them. will lead the country if successful.

The debate has largely revolved around the state of the economy, the cost of living crisis and inflation – and how each candidate will address these issues.

Other areas of controversy include Brexit (Sunak asked Truss about which she regrets more: being a supporter of Still at the Peak of the Brexit Debate, or being a Liberal Democrat) and transition rights, with Penny Mordaunt denying she supported gender self-determination when she was equality minister in 2019.

In this handout image provided by ITV, Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt stand with presenter Julie Etchingham (in a light blue suit) during Britain’s Next Prime Minister: ITV Debate at Riverside Studios on 17 July 2022 in London, England.

Handout | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

The tax status of Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty, the wealthy daughter of an Indian billionaire, was also featured in the debate, as was the candidates’ stance on Russia, with all but one coming up. said they would not sit next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 meeting.

No love is lost for Johnson

The leadership contest comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down as party leader two weeks ago after months of controversy over his conduct while in office.

His government has been plagued by scandals involving partisans during the Covid-19 lockdown and several officials have been implicated in appalling accusations.

The final takeaway for many MPs was Johnson’s appointment of Chris Pincher as deputy chief of staff (responsible for party discipline), despite knowledge of previous sexual misconduct allegations against him. ta. It led to a wave of resignations with ministers and officials saying Johnson was no longer commanding their confidence.

When candidates hoping to replace Johnson were asked during Sunday’s televised debate whether they would give their former boss a ministerial job, none of them said they would. .

In a sign of how tight the leadership race is, a poll of 851 Conservative Party members on the website Conservative Home on Saturday gave Badenoch the lead with 31% of the vote.

Truss was in second place with 20% of the vote, Mordaunt dropped to third with 18%, Sunak was behind and Tom Tugendhat was fifth.

Although the poll shows who is supported by Conservative Party members, only candidates who win enough votes from their parliamentary colleagues will be on the final ballot to be elected. party members vote.

There were eight candidates at the start of the leadership race, but the number has dropped to five currently compared with two votes cast by Conservative MPs last week.

Several more votes this week will see the candidates reduced to the final two, with the finalists known on Thursday.

Members of the Conservative Party (just under 200,000) will then be asked to vote by postal ballot of their preference. Winners are expected to be announced on September 5.

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