Political unrest in the UK: what you need to know

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LONDON — Boris Johnson is battling to garner enough support to make a shock return as British Prime Minister after figures from the Conservative Party’s right wing rallied around the man once accused of betraying him, Rishi Sunak.

Here are the latest events, comments and context:

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* Johnson and his former finance minister Sunak lead the contenders for prime minister after Liz Truss resigned after just six weeks in office.

* Sunak, whose resignation in July triggered Johnson’s impeachment, pledged to tackle the country’s « deep economic crisis » with « integrity, professionalism and responsibility ».

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* Truss was shot down by an economic program that has rattled financial markets, driven up the cost of living for voters and enraged much of his own party.

* Candidates are seeking support from Conservative Party lawmakers to become party leader – and prime minister – in a fast-track competition.

* Johnson, who was ousted by his lawmakers in July but remains popular with party members, is aiming to make what would be an extraordinary political comeback.

* Former defense minister Penny Mordaunt has also joined the contest to become the country’s fifth prime minister in six years.

* The leadership election will close on Friday to replace Truss, the shortest prime minister in British history. The first results will be announced on Monday at 17:00 GMT.

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* A national election does not need to be called for another two years, but opposition parties have said voters should now have a say. Labor leader Keir Starmer said the battle over the top Tories was a « ridiculous and chaotic circus ».

* Labor leads the government by more than 30 points in some opinion polls.


* UK buyers cut spending sharply in September while government borrowing rose more than expected, underscoring the challenge facing new finance minister Jeremy Hunt and whoever succeeds Truss as prime minister.

* Hunt reiterated on Friday that the government would do « everything necessary » to reduce debt over the medium term.


* The pound fell on Friday, weighed down by economic and political uncertainty. Analysts believe that the markets will need time to completely shed the political risk premium accumulated in recent weeks.

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* Britain’s financial markets were thrown into turmoil on September 23 after then-new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced billions of pounds in unfunded tax cuts.

* The Bank of England was forced to buy emergency bonds to stem a sharp sell-off in Britain’s $2.3 trillion government bond market that threatened to wreak havoc on the pensions sector and increase the risk of recession.

* Kwarteng’s replacement Jeremy Hunt on Monday scrapped « almost everything » from the economic plan and scaled back Truss’ sweeping energy support package, announced in September, in a historic U-turn to try to restore investor confidence.

* BoE interventions have highlighted a growing segment of the UK pensions sector – liability-driven investing.

(Compiled by Toby Chopra)



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