Race to replace Johnson heats up as Liz Truss announces offer

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has entered the race to replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister, the latest cabinet minister to have him moved in an already heated contest.

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(Bloomberg) – Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has entered the race to replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister, the latest cabinet minister to move him in an already fractious contest.

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Truss has put tax cuts at the heart of his campaign, pledging to reverse a payroll tax hike introduced by former chancellor Rishi Sunak and pledging to make corporation tax « competitive ».

‘Under my leadership I would start cutting taxes from day one to take immediate action to help people with the cost of living,’ she wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Sunday evening.

She joins 10 other candidates who have started making their pitches, including Sunak, his successor Nadhim Zahawi and ex-health ministers Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt. Home Secretary Priti Patel is also considering a run.

Meanwhile, former equality minister Kemi Badenoch was backed by former minister Michael Gove, who was sacked by Johnson last week in one of his last acts before stepping down. The winner will be announced by September.

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The exact timetable for the leadership race is expected to be set late Monday, after a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Rank and File Conservative MPs, which decides the rules. It is also likely to set the number of MP nominations each candidate must have, to reduce the crowded field.

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The Tories want the contest to be as quick as possible and want to narrow down the candidates to the final two before Parliament begins its summer recess on July 21. It means the next two weeks in Westminster are likely to get heated: personal lives will fly, and alliances will develop as the candidates seek the support of fellow lawmakers.

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MPs will decide which candidates will make the bottom two, in a series of ballots that could start as early as Wednesday. But Conservative Party members will choose the eventual winner, after the leadership finalists complete a six-week tour of the UK over the summer.

Over 55

The party declined to confirm the current number of Conservative members, but it is believed to be more than the 160,000 who received ballots in the last contest in 2019. Under party rules, this select group – more likely to be male, aged over 55 and living in the south of England – has the unique power to choose the next prime minister.

Johnson resigned as Tory leader last Thursday after a dramatic mass revolt by his ministers, following a series of scandals that eclipsed his three-year term as prime minister. He has pledged to remain prime minister until his successor is announced and has appointed an interim government which he insists will « not make big changes in direction ».

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Keir Starmer’s opposition Labor Party will call for a vote of no confidence in Johnson’s government this week if, as expected, the 1922 Committee does not reject Johnson as caretaker prime minister. Such a vote, held in the House of Commons, could lead to Johnson’s expulsion and the appointment of a new caretaker prime minister, or even a snap general election.

But that would require significant backing from Tories, many of whom are likely to choose to keep Johnson on as temporary leader to avoid handing Starmer the win.

Battle for tax cuts

The leadership race is already becoming a battle for household money, with limited interest in budget cuts. Javid and Hunt made tax cuts a priority when they spoke to BBC TV on Sunday.

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The two men promised to cancel a planned increase in corporation tax and reduce it from 25% to 15%. Javid went further, pledging to reverse the National Insurance hike that occurred in April, as did Truss.

It comes as Britons battle a rise in the cost of living, amid expected increases in energy bills and rail fares, and the prospect of widespread strikes by public sector workers demanding higher wages .

Sunak sought to cast himself as the responsible candidate in his Twitter opening speech, referencing his handling of the economy during the pandemic and refusing to bow to ‘fairy tales’ about how to solve the problems of the country.

But he may struggle to convince MPs who are unimpressed with his record of raising taxes, having pushed the country’s tax burden to its highest level since World War Two – a move that doesn’t square. with conservative ideology.

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Meanwhile, the current Chancellor Zahawi has hit back at allegations over his tax affairs, after the Independent and the Sunday Times reported his finances were being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs after an initial investigation by the National Crime Agency. In an emailed statement, Zahawi said the claims were « inaccurate, unfair and are clearly slander ».

Other leadership candidates include Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat, centrist chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee and – in a surprise addition Sunday night – backbencher Rehman Chishti.



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