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Several Tory heavyweights are already taking part in a choppy race to replace Johnson

#Tory #heavyweights #part #choppy #race #replace #Johnson

A trio of Conservative heavyweights, including former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, announced their bids to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson late on Saturday, meaning eight candidates have entered the already bitter race for the leadership.

Javid, also a former Treasury Secretary, and Hunt, who finished second behind Johnson at the last contest in 2019, were added to the growing list of candidates by current Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed to the post only on Tuesday.

Neither trio has led the way in recent polls of Conservative Party members who will ultimately choose their new leader and Johnson’s successor, but they are among the most prominent to have campaigned so far.

Hours earlier, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had announced that he would run, adding another candidate to what is typically an unpredictable political competition. Shapps is a veteran lawmaker, having first sat in cabinet in 2010, but is also not a front-runner in the polls.

But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who has impressed in his role and was one of Tory members’ favorites in several recent polls, announced he would not run after a discussion with colleagues and family.

The likely month-long campaign, which may pit more than a dozen Conservative MPs and several factions of the ruling party against each other, is due to be formalized on Monday when a committee of backbenchers meets to agree the timeline and rules.

– tax debate –

The early frontrunner is former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak, who helped ignite the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation on Thursday.

Sunak and Javid both resigned late Tuesday, prompting dozens of other younger colleagues to follow suit and forcing their ex-boss to quit as Tory leader 36 hours later.

But Johnson, whose three-year tenure has been defined by the scandal, the country’s exit from the European Union and the Covid pandemic, said he will stay on until his successor is chosen.

Party members will eventually select their new leader ahead of the Conservatives’ annual conference in early October from a shortlist of two drawn up in multiple rounds of voting from all 358 Tory MPs.

Attorney General and arch-Brexit leader Suella Braverman, relatively unknown former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch and backbench Tory MP Tom Tugendhat have also announced their candidacy.

Secretary of State Liz Truss is among those expected to join the crowded field yet.

Taxation will be a key feature of the race, alongside candidates’ Brexit credentials, as the UK faces the toxic combination of high inflation and skyrocketing cost of living, as well as stagnant growth and relatively high tax rates.

– ‘Plot’ –

Javid and Hunt announced their deals separately in the Sunday Telegraph, pledging to cut corporate tax from 25 per cent to 15 per cent.

Javid said he would also cut or change other taxes, including reversing a recent increase in Social Security intended to boost healthcare funding.

Zahawi also pledged to cut taxes on individuals, families and businesses, increase defense spending and continue education reforms he started in his previous role as head of that government department.

Sunak, who was just ahead of Truss in the latest poll of party members, immediately garnered support from several senior MPs after he said late Friday that he was in a slick video on social media.

He has also been attacked by Johnson loyalists and rival candidates as a show of acrimony that could hurt competition.

The Financial Times said on Saturday that there was “great anger” within the outgoing prime minister’s team at Sunak over his resignation, with a senior official calling him “a treacherous bastard”.

In a veiled dig at Sunak, Shapps said in his leadership announcement that he “has not spent the last turbulent years leading conspiracies or briefings against the prime minister… (or) mobilizing a leadership campaign behind his back.”

– Tax decisions delayed –

After the nearly 60 resignations that prompted his decision to resign, Johnson assembled a new team to govern in the interim and announced a spate of junior appointments late Friday.

At a first meeting of his hastily convened top ministers on Thursday, the 58-year-old conceded that “big budget decisions should be left to the next prime minister,” Downing Street said.

The Conservatives have declined to say how many eligible members they have, but note it will be more than the 160,000 who voted in the last leadership contest in 2019.

As the list of candidates grows, some senior lawmakers have warned the field must narrow quickly, and suggested the final two-person shortlist to be presented to members should be decided within weeks before the Parliament’s summer recess begins after July 21.

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#Tory #heavyweights #part #choppy #race #replace #Johnson

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