Saturday, December 10, 2022

Johnson’s successors seek to stand out in close race

LONDON ( Associated Press) – Potential successors to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson struggled on Sunday to differentiate themselves from a growing field of candidates as the ruling Conservative Party must set a tight schedule for elections.

Candidates posted campaign videos on social media and appeared on political talk shows on Sunday morning to present their case to the public. Several have promised tax cuts, appealing to the Conservative Party base, for which low taxes are a mantra.

Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday after more than 50 members of his cabinet and lower-level officials resigned, many claiming his ethical failures undermined the government’s credibility.

This set off a race within the Conservative Party to choose a new leader. Under British rules, the party leader automatically becomes prime minister without the need for a general election.

International Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was the latest to announce her candidacy on Sunday, saying the UK “needs to become less about the leader and more about the ship”. Former health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt joined the fray on Saturday night.

Other prominent candidates include Rishi Sunak, former Secretary of the Treasury, and Nadim Zahawi, now Sunak’s successor. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has not formally announced her candidacy, but she is expected to do so.

Johnson, 58, has been plagued by a series of scandals, most recently related to his decision to promote a lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct.

An influential Conservative Party committee is due to set the rules for the leadership race on Monday, with news suggesting Conservative lawmakers will narrow the field to two before Parliament goes into summer recess on March 21. Party members across the country will vote in the final election before the end of August, the London Times reported.

Johnson said he will remain in his post until his successor is chosen. But many want him gone now, and even some conservative politicians fear he could do something wrong even as interim prime minister.

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