Conservative party announces eight candidates to replace Boris Johnson as UK PM

Eight Conservative MPs will vie to replace outgoing UK prime minister Boris Johnson, having won the support of at least 20 colleagues, the party announced Tuesday.

Rishi Sunak, Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi will all enter the first round of voting on Wednesday, with the eventual winner to be revealed on September 5.

Below is a summary of the entrants in a leadership contest triggered after Johnson announced on Thursday he was resigning.

There is no clear favorite and the candidates are not listed in order of likely prospects. Candidates were formally nominated on Tuesday, and the first of several rounds of voting begins on Wednesday.

Kemi Badenoch

Elected to parliament for the first time in 2017, Badenoch has held junior ministerial jobs, including most recently minister for equalities, but has never served in cabinet.

A former Conservative member of the London Assembly, she has also served as vice-chair of the Conservative Party. Badenoch, 42, supported leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Suella Braverman

As attorney general, Braverman, 42, was heavily criticized by lawyers after the government sought to break international law over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland.

She campaigned to leave the EU and served as a junior minister in the Brexit department under previous Prime Minister Theresa May, but resigned in protest at her proposed Brexit deal, saying it did not go far enough in breaking ties with the bloc.

Jeremy Hunt

The former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest to replace May. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership.

Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair parliament’s health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government.

Hunt said he voted to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month that the prime minister narrowly won.

He has pledged tax cuts, including a cut to corporation tax to 15 percent. He says he favors cuts for businesses because they could help spur economic growth, while tax cuts for consumers might be inflationary.

Hunt supported remaining in the EU ahead of the 2016 vote.

Penny Mordaunt

The former defense secretary was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she endorsed his rival, Hunt, during the 2019 leadership contest.

Mordaunt, 49, was a passionate supporter of leaving the EU and said that she would aim to deliver the benefits of Brexit and recover from recent economic shocks such as the pandemic.

Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the COVID lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful” and has said that if she is prime minister, leadership has to change to be less about the leader.

Rishi Sunak

Sunak announced his leadership bid on Friday with a campaign video in which he promised to confront the difficult economic backdrop with “honesty, seriousness and determination”, rather than piling the burden on future generations.

Sunak, 42, became finance minister in early 2020 and was praised for a COVID-19 economic rescue package, including a costly jobs retention program that averted mass unemployment.

But he later faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households. Revelations this year about his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status, and a fine he received for breaking COVID lockdown rules, have damaged his standing.

His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favor lower taxes.

Sunak voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

Liz Truss

The foreign secretary has been the darling of the Conservative Party’s grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home.

Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, echoing a famous 1986 photo of Thatcher.

She spent the first two years of Johnson’s premiership as international trade secretary and is now in charge of dealing with the EU over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, where she has taken an increasingly tough line in negotiations.

Truss, 46, initially campaigned against Brexit but after the 2016 referendum said she had changed her mind.

Tom Tugendhat

The chair of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and a former soldier who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, he is relatively untested because he has never served in cabinet.

Tugendhat, 49, has been a regular critic of Johnson and would offer his party a clean break with previous governments.

He says he is a low tax Conservative who did not support the rise in National Insurance, and has said fuel tax is “crippling” for many people.

He voted to remain in the EU.

Nadhim Zahawi

The newly appointed finance minister impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the world’s fastest rollouts of COVID shots.

Zahawi’s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other contenders.

He co-founded polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. His last job was as education secretary.

Zahawi, 55, says the burden of tax is too high, and he will lower taxes for individuals, families and businesses.

He supported leaving the EU.

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