Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak at ‘secret summit’ as race to replace UK Prime Minister Liz Truss heats up
Boris Johnson has held talks with his former finance minister Rishi Sunak as a key deadline looms in the race to replace Liz Truss as Britain’s prime minister, UK media reports.
The pair became early favorites to replace Truss, who announced his resignation on Thursday just six weeks into a term that has thrown Britain into political and economic turmoil.
Although neither has officially declared his candidacy, Sunak has reached the 100-nomination threshold to make it to the voting stage and Johnson’s allies say he has returned to the country after a vacation. in the Caribbean with plans to join the race, PA News reported.
A runoff between the two men could be divisive for the ruling Conservative party, not least because many Johnson supporters blame Sunak’s resignation in July as bringing down his government. Some outlets have speculated that the two could strike some sort of deal.
BBC sources said the meeting took place but ‘what they discussed has not been disclosed’, while UK news agency PA Media reported the two ‘will be locked in talks later in the evening » Saturday.
Sky News, meanwhile, called the meeting a « secret summit ».
If either – or both – of the two men decide to run, they will face House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, the first and so far only female MP to officially enter the race.
The last time the Tories held a leadership race – after the Johnson government fell – Truss came in first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative official responsible for the process, said any candidate must receive at least 100 nominations from party MPs by 2 p.m. local time on Monday.
The threshold effectively narrows the field of potential candidates to a maximum of three since the party has 357 MPs.
If only one candidate reaches this threshold, he will automatically become leader. Otherwise, the remaining candidates will be put to an online vote by members of the Conservative Party which will close on Friday, October 28.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into his disastrous tenure which plunged Britain deep into political and economic turmoil. His successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since he voted for Brexit in 2016.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel on Saturday became one of Johnson’s most prominent supporters in his quest to become Prime Minister. « Boris has the mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and has a proven track record of making the right important decisions, » she said in a tweet.
But his eventual return to the helm of government has divided opinion within the Conservative Party, with many lawmakers horrified at the prospect of a second post for Prime Minister Johnson.
Even his former deputy prime minister and foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told the BBC ‘we can’t go back’ and stressed that Johnson was being investigated over the so-called scandal of the party on unlawful gatherings in Downing Street.
The former Prime Minister is due to appear in the coming weeks before the Commons Privileges Committee which is investigating whether he misled Parliament about parties, which could see him suspended or expelled as an MP.