Conservative candidates in UK throw hats in ring to replace Johnson | News from politics

Some 11 members of the UK Conservative Party have made bids to replace Boris Johnson as party leader, with many promising lower taxes and a clean start to Johnson’s scandal-ridden PM.

Johnson announced on Thursday he was stepping down after dozens of ministers and officials resigned over his handling of a range of scandals, including breaking lockdown rules at meetings at his Downing Street office.

Johnson said he would lead an interim government until the party elected a new leader.

The Conservative Party’s 1922 Legislative Committee, which sets the rules for the party in Parliament, will finalize the exact timetable for the contest after a session on Monday.

Bob Blackman, a board member of the committee, said nominations will close Tuesday night and the field has been reduced to just two candidates by July 21.

The contest would then go to a postal ballot with a new party leader, who would then become Prime Minister and was expected to be elected by September. They would have the option of calling early elections.

Taxation has already emerged as a key issue in the race as the UK faces high inflation and a cost of living crisis.

An early favorite, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, said Saturday he would not stand after a discussion with colleagues and family while Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly mulls an offer.

Here are the 11 candidates so far:

Liz Truss, Secretary of State

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced her candidacy in the right-wing Daily Telegraph on Sunday night, saying she had “a clear vision of where we need to go and the experience and determination to get us there”.

Truss promised to cut taxes from “day one.”

Close up image of British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walking in Downing Street
Secretary of State Lizz Truss announced her candidacy in the right-wing Daily Telegraph on Sunday, pledging to cut taxes [File: Justin Tallis/AFP]

Rishi Sunak, Former Minister of Finance

Sunak was the second minister to resign in protest at Johnson’s poor handling of sexual harassment allegations against Conservative MP Christopher Pincher.

He launched his campaign on Friday, a day after Johnson’s resignation, and received more than 30 MPs of support over the weekend, according to the Times newspaper.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister, was the second minister to resign in protest of Johnson’s resignation [File: Daniel Leal/Reuters]

The former hedge fund manager has come under pressure over the tax affairs of his wife Akshata Murty, heiress to Indian IT company Infosys. He has also been attacked over rising taxes after last year’s budget put the UK on course for its heaviest tax burden since the 1950s.

In his campaign video, Sunak pledged to meet the country’s difficult economic situation with “honesty, seriousness and determination”.

Jeremy Hunt, former Secretary of State

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt, Conservative Party leader candidate, appears on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme [BBC Handout via Reuters]

Hunt finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May and said he will offer a more serious and less controversial leadership style after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership.

He has attempted to make his mark as the only lead candidate to date not to have served in Johnson’s administration.

Sajid Javid, Former Minister of Health

Sajid Javid
Conservative Party leader Sajid Javid appears on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme [BBC Handout via Reuters]

Javid was the first cabinet minister to resign in protest at allegations that Johnson had misled the public about what he knew about the allegations against Pincher.

Javid, the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, is a free market advocate and former banker. β€œThe next prime minister needs integrity, experience and a tax cut plan for economic growth. That’s why I’m standing,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Penny Mordaunt, former British Defense Secretary

Penny Mordaunt
British Member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt [File: Simon Dawson/Reuters]

Mordaunt has held several ministerial posts, including Secretary of Defense in May’s government.

The former Navy reservist announced her application for the top job in a video on social media, saying, “Our leadership needs to change. It has to be a little less about the guide and a lot more about the ship.”

Grant Shapps, Minister for Transport

Grant Shapps
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps leaves 10 Downing Street in London [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

Shapps has been Secretary of State for Transport since Johnson took office in 2019. He was first elected to Parliament in 2005.

He was a staunch defender of Johnson.

He wrote on Twitter announcing his campaign: “I’m planning. I communicate I apply. I deliver And I can win an election for our party in difficult times.” He too has promised tax cuts.

Nadhim Zahawi, Finance Minister

Nadhim Zahawi
British Treasury Secretary Nadhim Zahawi at Downing Street in London [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

Zahawi was appointed finance minister last week following Sunak’s resignation. Previously he was Minister of Education.

A former refugee from Iraq and co-founder of polling firm YouGov before entering parliament in 2010, Zahawi said he will run on a platform to lower taxes for individuals, families and businesses.

Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat, Conservative Party leader in London [File: Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

Tugendhat is the chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and a former soldier who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He never served in Cabinet and was a regular critic of Johnson.

After announcing his campaign, he wrote on Twitter: “Trust in our politics and our party is collapsing. We need a clean start.”

Kemi Badenoch, Member of Parliament

Badenoch was first elected to Parliament in 2017 and has held junior ministerial posts. She never served in the Cabinet.

She wrote in The Times: “Without change, the Conservative Party, Britain and the Western world will continue to drift away.”

Suella Braverman, Attorney General

Britain’s Attorney General Suella Braverman walks outside Downing Street in London [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

As Attorney General of England and Wales, Braverman has faced severe criticism from lawyers after the government attempted to break international law over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland.

A staunch Brexit supporter, she resigned in protest from her post as junior minister in May’s Brexit department, saying the former PM’s Brexit deal had not gone far enough to break ties with Europe. Her campaign so far has focused on further cutting ties with European institutions, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

Rehman Chishti, MP

Rehman Chishti, who has worked as the UK’s trade envoy, announced his plan to run for leadership in a tweet on Sunday.

“It’s about ambitious conservatism, fresh ideas, a fresh team for a fresh start that moves our great country forward,” the MP wrote on Twitter.