Foreign Secretary Liz Truss joins 11-person race to lead UK

In this file photo taken September 15, 2021, Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (L) leaves 10 Downing Street in central London. On July 10, 2022, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced her candidacy to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Conservative Party. – AFP photo.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss joined the race on Sunday to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister and leader of the ruling Conservative Party, as the heated contest focused on taxation.

Truss, 46, announced her candidacy in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Sunday evening, saying she had “a clear vision of where we need to be and the experience and determination to get us there”.

The candidacy of Truss, seen as a frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, followed that of former defense minister Penny Mordaunt as the race widened to 11 candidates.

Mordaunt, 49, a former navy reservist who has also held several senior cabinet posts, is not among the favorites to succeed Johnson in recent polls of Conservative Party members who are expected to ultimately choose their new leader.

But such contests are notoriously unpredictable, and with more than a dozen lawmakers from multiple ruling party factions likely to run, political commentators say few candidates can be ruled out.

The top frontrunner is former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who launched his campaign on Friday after helping to launch the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation on Thursday. He is now drawing fire from Johnson loyalists and rival candidates.

Sunak and former health minister Sajid Javid – who has also declared his candidacy – both resigned on Tuesday evening, prompting dozens of more junior colleagues to follow suit.

It forced Johnson to step down as Tory leader 36 hours later.

But the 58-year-old leader, whose three-year term as prime minister has been defined by scandal, the country’s departure from the European Union and the Covid pandemic, said he would stay on until his successor is chosen.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who finished second to Johnson in the last contest in 2019, announced on Saturday night that he would stand again.

Current Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi – appointed to the post only on Tuesday – and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have also launched tenders.

They join attorney general and arch-Brexiteer Suella Braverman, relatively unknown former equality minister Kemi Badenoch and Conservative backbench MP Tom Tugendhat on the growing list of candidates.

Another conservative lawmaker, Rehman Chishti, announced his leadership bid on Sunday evening to bring the number of candidates to 11.

But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who impressed in the role and has been a favorite among Tory members, said on Saturday he would not run after a discussion with colleagues and family.

Taxation is already a key dividing line in the race, as Britain faces the toxic combination of high inflation and creeping increases in the cost of living, alongside stagnant growth and a relatively high tax rates.

Announcing their offers separately in the Sunday Telegraph, Javid and Hunt both promised to cut corporation tax from 25% to 15%.

Javid said he would also reduce or change other taxes, including reversing a recent increase in National Insurance which is earmarked to increase funding for health services.

Hunt, Shapps and Tugendhat outlined their pro-tax cut positions in Sunday morning television appearances, while Truss also made tax cuts central to his speech.

But declaring his candidacy in a shrewd social media video ahead of the weekend, Sunak struck a different tone, warning conservatives not to believe “fairy tale” promises.

Meanwhile, Zahawi’s campaign appeared in jeopardy at first after Sunday papers reported that his personal tax affairs were being investigated by tax and customs officials – who are part of his department. of the Treasury. He denied wrongdoing.

The acrimonious campaign that will likely last for months is set to be formalized on Monday when a committee of backbench MPs meet to agree the timetable and rules.

A Tuesday evening deadline for registering applications could be imposed, according to reports.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the committee’s treasurer, told LBC radio he was ‘absolutely confident’ the competition could be narrowed down to two candidates to put to members within weeks, before Parliament’s summer recess after July 21.

First, multiple rounds of voting by the 358 Tory MPs are likely, with elimination thresholds set for each stage.

The new leader then chosen by the deputies could be in place before the annual Conservative conference in early October.

Conservative commentator Iain Dale said on Sunday that if a consensus candidate emerged the contest could end without party members voting, as happened in 2016 with the selection of Theresa May.

In a sign of the potential danger of a protracted fight, The Sunday Times reported that some of the management teams had compiled supposedly dirty files of incriminating allegations against rival candidates and their aides.