Britain’s Conservative leadership race: When will the new UK Prime Minister be announced and what happens next?

At around 12:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET), the ruling Conservative Party will announce the results of its leadership election, in which the two final-round contenders, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and the former finance minister Rishi Sunak, have strongly criticized the other’s plans.

Truss, a low-tax evangelist and poster child of Britain’s conservative right, is the heavy favorite to beat Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who voted for Brexit but has now adopted a softer tone on how the UK should deal with the EU.

The winner of the competition, as the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, will assume the post of prime minister until the next general election, which is due to be held by December 2024.

Whoever triumphs will likely travel on Tuesday to meet Queen Elizabeth II to receive an invitation to form a government. The reception is usually held at Buckingham Palace, but the 96-year-old monarch is at her Scottish residence at Balmoral and, for the first time in her reign, she will receive Johnson and his successor there.

But the next Prime Minister’s celebrations are likely to be brief, with a spiraling cost of living crisis – average annual energy bills alone are set to rise 80% to £3,549 (about $4,180) from October – threatening to overwhelm much of the country. Speaking on a BBC policy show on Sunday, Truss declined to discuss his plans to tackle rising bills, but added: “What I want to reassure is that I will act if I am elected Prime Minister within a week.”

Truss is the clear favorite to win the most votes among ordinary Conservative Party members in the leadership election. Despite voting to remain in the European Union in 2016, Truss found herself the preferred candidate of the vast majority of Brexiteers in her party.

Critics have accused her of playing politics with Brexit, taking a tough stance in a cynical bid to win votes. They pointed to the fact that throughout her adult life, Truss’s politics evolved from being a youthful anti-monarchist in favor of drug legalization, to the embodiment of the right-wing Conservative Party. . Truss’s campaign platform has presented plenty of red meat for Tory members, from a hard line against the EU on Brexit, to tax cuts as the main solution to the cost of living crisis.

Unlike Truss, Sunak voted to leave the EU in 2016 and has made repeated promises to get rid of EU regulations. He spent the early days of his campaign criticizing Truss’s tax cut plans, although he to some extent followed his lead.

Sunak was applauded at the start of the coronavirus pandemic for using government money to help people who lost their jobs or couldn’t run their businesses. He was later fined for attending a party with Johnson during the lockdown and came under scrutiny over the tax arrangements of his wife, Akshata Murty, the daughter of an Indian billionaire.

hard road ahead

Whatever the outcome, Sunak or Truss will take over a Conservative government facing multiple crises after 12 years in power. Along with the cost of living crisis, the next Prime Minister must tackle collapsing public services and a looming winter of strikes, while arguing that the Conservatives deserve to win a historic fifth term in the coming general elections.

Inflation topped 10% in July for the first time in 40 years, mainly due to soaring energy, food and fuel prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the Bank of England, inflation will climb to 13% by the end of the year. The central bank also predicted that the UK would enter recession before the end of the year.

To the extent that this affects the leadership race, analysts doubt that either candidate’s policies will help. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent research group, said last month that leadership candidates, who both promise tax cuts and reduced government spending, “must recognize this uncertainty even greater than expected.” habit in public finances”.

Above the new government will loom the shadow of Johnson, who is stepping down from a deeply unpopular prime minister whose missteps have sent Conservative Party approval ratings plummeting.

Johnson was forced to resign from office on July 7 – less than three years after winning a huge landslide election victory in 2019 – after a series of scandals made his position untenable. His announcement follows months of revelations about illegal parties being held in Downing Street while the country was under Covid lockdown restrictions. Johnson himself was fined by police, making him the first prime minister in history to break the law in office.

However, he weathered the so-called ‘Partygate’ scandal for months, and it wasn’t until his deputy chief whip was accused of sexually assaulting two men at a party and Johnson was slow to act that his own party eventually turned against him.

Whether or not Johnson will remain in politics is unclear. He could be forced to resign as an MP after a House of Commons committee delivers its verdict on an inquiry into the Partygate scandal and if Johnson knowingly misled parliament. Johnson had previously claimed that no rules were broken in Downing Street.

Either way, Johnson will undoubtedly remain a prominent figure. There’s a good chance he’ll return to his media career as a columnist and broadcaster, although the damage to his reputation in power could mean his appeal is limited compared to what it was before he joined. Downing Street.

And his legacy will be hard for Truss or Sunak to distance themselves from. Truss is widely seen as Johnson’s continuity candidate while Sunak, despite resigning from Johnson’s cabinet and triggering the prime minister’s downfall, was his finance minister during the pandemic and is closely associated with the premiership of Johnson.

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