Britain’s Conservative Party picked its two finalists in the contest to replace Boris Johnson on Wednesday, as the divisive and unrepentant leader ended his last appearance in parliament as prime minister with the words ‘Hasta la vista, baby”.
Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were the last two candidates remaining to replace Johnson from an initial field of eight, it was revealed on Wednesday.
Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was eliminated from the competition, finishing with 105 votes from MPs. Sunak received 137 votes, while Truss garnered 113 votes.
The two contenders will spend the next few weeks campaigning for the votes of around 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country, who will vote by mail-in ballot or online. The winner of the leadership vote will be announced on September 5 and will automatically become prime minister.
The bitter campaign exposed deep divisions within the Conservative Party at the end of Johnson’s scandal-ridden three-year rule. Opponents have called Sunak a “socialist” for raising taxes in response to economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Sunak replied that his rivals were peddling economic “fairy tales”.
The candidates are all trying to distance themselves from Johnson, whose tenure began boldly in 2019 with a vow to “get Brexit done” and a resounding election victory but is now ending in disgrace.
Johnson loyalist versus cabinet member who resigned
Sunak quit his post at the Treasury earlier this month after questioning Johnson’s competence and ethics.
At 42, Sunak would be the youngest prime minister in over 200 years and the country’s first South Asian leader. Sunak was born in Southampton, on the south coast of England, in 1980 to Indian parents born in East Africa.
A savvy low-tax politician, he nevertheless shelled out billions of government money to keep people and businesses afloat during the pandemic.
His furlough scheme, which paid the salaries of millions of workers when they were temporarily laid off, made him the most popular member of government. But critics said his campaign to get people to eat in restaurants after lockdown restrictions were relaxed in the summer of 2020 contributed to another wave of COVID-19.
He was also faced with questions about his wealth and finances. His wife, Akshata Murty, is the daughter of the billionaire founder of Indian tech giant Infosys, and the couple are worth 730 million pounds (C$1.13 billion), according to the Sunday Times Rich List. In April it emerged that Murty was not paying UK tax on his overseas earnings.
If Truss wins, she would become Britain’s third female prime minister. She forged her image in homage to the first, Margaret Thatcher.
As Foreign Secretary, Truss was at the center of British support for Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia following the invasion of its neighbour. Two British nationals imprisoned in Iran also returned home during his tenure.
Truss, 46, also played a leading role in the UK’s row with the European Union over post-Brexit trade deals. Her pugnacious approach – along with her promises to cut taxes and increase defense spending – has made her the favorite of the party’s heavily Eurosceptic right.
Opponents criticize her as dogmatic and a wooden orator. She stood twice unsuccessfully for Parliament before being elected to represent the East of England seat of South West Norfolk in 2010.
In the 2016 British referendum on whether to leave the European Union, Truss supported the losing team “Remain”, unlike Sunak. But she served in Johnson’s staunchly pro-Brexit government as trade secretary and then foreign secretary, and won the support of the Conservative Party’s staunchest Brexiteers.
Labor gets final digs on Johnson
Parliament adjourns for the summer on Thursday.
Johnson, who resigned on July 7 after months of ethics scandals but remains the caretaker leader, faced mocking opposition politicians and weary Tories in his final Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons. municipalities.
It was a pessimistic start, with Tory backbenchers backing the praise and opposition politicians offering variations of “good riddance”.
Johnson touted what he called his accomplishments – getting Britain out of the European Union and through COVID-19, and supporting Ukraine against invading Russia – and said: “Mission largely accomplished, for the moment”, before leaving with “hasta la vista” by Arnold Schwarzenegger. slogan of Terminator 2.
Labor leader Keir Starmer said: ‘I’m going to miss the illusion.
Johnson urged to resign immediately
Johnson clung to office through months of scandals over his finances and judgement, refusing to resign when he was fined by police for government parties breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules .
He finally resigned after one scandal too many – the appointment of a politician accused of sexual misconduct – prompted his ministers to resign en masse.
Although he remained Prime Minister, he has largely disappeared from the scene, even as Britain faces a summer cost-of-living crisis and discontent among working people as inflation hit 9.4 %, according to the latest Economist report.
Johnson did not attend any emergency government meetings over the heatwave that brought temperatures of 40C to Britain this week. Last week he took a ride in a Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jet, with Superior gun– stylish images circulated by his office, then threw a weekend party at Chequers, the country house that accompanies the work of the Prime Minister.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who represents the opposition Labor Party, accused Johnson of wanting to “become Tom Cruise” and urged him to resign immediately.
“We need a full-time prime minister who takes care of our country rather than someone who checked,” Khan said.