- No candidates have announced their intention to run
- Doubts over Johnson’s ability to hit target of 100 nominations
- Sunak is a favorite of bookmakers
- The winner will be the fifth British prime minister in six years
LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Boris Johnson and his former finance minister, Rishi Sunak, were appointed to replace British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Friday. Truss), the candidate is building support to become Conservative leader in a fast-track race.
Truss, who was picked by party members to replace Johnson after being ousted by MPs in July, resigned on Thursday after a tumultuous six weeks in office.
Those who want to replace her have until Monday to secure 100 nominations from Conservative MPs for a campaign the party hopes will recalibrate its predicament.
Sign up now for free unlimited access to Reuters.com
Opinion polls suggest the Conservatives would be all but eliminated if a national election were held now, in the race to become the fifth British prime minister in six years. There will be no elections for two years.
The winner will be announced on Monday or next Friday.
In an extraordinary comeback, Johnson, still popular with party members, was touted alongside Sunak as a possible candidate.
“He can turn things around again. I’m sure my colleagues heard the message clearly,” Conservative MP Paul Bristow told LBC radio. “Boris Johnson can win the next election.”
But after his three-year term as prime minister was thwarted by scandals and allegations of misconduct, Johnson, who likens himself to a Roman dictator who came to power twice in response to a crisis, may not meet the 100 nomination threshold.
The Financial Times said Boris’s comeback would be “hilarious”.
One of his former advisers, who no longer speaks to Johnson and asked not to be named, said he was unlikely to hit the mark, alienating dozens of Conservative MPs.
Will Walden, who once worked for Johnson, said the former leader was returning from vacation and probed.
Commerce Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg used the hashtag “#Borisorbust” to show support.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled himself out of the race, saying he is leaning towards backing Johnson, who led the party to an overwhelming majority in the 2019 national election.
Former Goldman Sachs analyst Sunak, who became finance minister when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Europe and was runner-up to Truss in the summer leadership contest, was the bookmaker’s favorite, followed by Johnson.
In third place is former defence minister Penny Mordaunt, the party’s most popular former defence minister to finish third last time. No one has officially announced their candidacy.
Sunak has 54 supporters, Johnson has 29 and Mordault has 16, according to a Reuters tally of Conservative MPs who have publicly announced their support.
Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister, Truss, resigned after her economic plan was rejected by investors, hitting the pound and pushing up borrowing costs, forcing the new finance minister to take over the new chancellor after she sacked her closest political ally. under the leadership of the U-turn.
The sight of another unpopular prime minister delivering a resignation speech in Downing Street on Thursday – and the start of a new leadership race – underscored how volatile British politics has become since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said Brexit had brought instability to the UK.
“I hope they will stabilize soon because even if they are no longer family, they are friends and neighbours. We need them and they need us,” he told reporters as he arrived in Brussels for an EU summit.
The Conservatives have a majority in parliament and can ignore calls for elections, but opposition parties, some newspapers and even some of their own lawmakers say it’s time to give voters a voice.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “The Conservative Party (the Conservative Party) cannot deal with their recent chaos by simply clicking a finger again and changing the way people at the top are doing it without the consent of the British people. “
“They didn’t authorize another trial for the country.”
Some Conservative lawmakers are urging colleagues to rally around a candidate to minimise the boiling over.
Sunak, who has warned that Truss’ fiscal plans threaten the economy, remains unpopular with some party members after he helped spark a rebellion against Johnson.
Mordaunt is seen as a fresh face, largely untainted by earlier governments, but also untested.
The next leader will take over as the economy heads toward a recession, with rising interest rates and inflation above 10%, with millions facing a crunch in the cost of living.
British shoppers have sharply reined in spending, with confidence levels near record lows, a survey on Friday showed, while weaker-than-expected public borrowing data underscored economic challenges ahead.
A Truss spokeswoman said work on the financial plan, due on October 1, was continuing. 31 But it is up to her successor to decide whether to proceed.
Whoever takes over will have a mountain to climb to restore the party’s reputation.
Political scientist John Curtice told LBC: “Whether the leadership change was enough to give the Conservative Party any real credibility in the election is certainly debatable.”
Sign up now for free unlimited access to Reuters.com
Writing by Elizabeth Piper and Kelly McClellan; Additional reporting by Muvija M, Sachin Ravikumar, Alistair Smout and William Schomberg in London and John Chalmers in Brussels; Editing by Toby Chopra and Catherine Evans
Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.