Foreign Secretary Truss enters race to become next UK PM

  • Eleven candidates have launched campaigns to be the next PM
  • Tax plans define first stage of leadership debate
  • Rules to replace PM Johnson to be announced on Monday

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – The 11 candidates seeking to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister will learn the timetable for selecting Britain’s new leader on Monday as the competition grows increasingly unpredictable, bitter and divisive.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss became the latest figure to stand, echoing rivals’ pledges to cut taxes and saying she would maintain a hard line against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Johnson was expelled last Thursday after his government imploded following a series of scandals.

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The contest is for the leadership of the ruling Conservative Party, with the winner then becoming Prime Minister. The goal is to find a successor by early September.

Lawmakers will have to narrow the candidates to the bottom two by July 21, before a postal ballot of the 200,000 Conservative Party members takes place over the summer.

Bob Blackman, a Conservative lawmaker who sits on the executive of the 1922 committee that sets the rules, said the process would be finalized by Monday evening.

He expected the candidates to win the support of about 20 lawmakers to proceed to the first ballot, before further ballots decide the final two.

Already the battle for the highest position is becoming personal.

Former finance minister Sajid Javid, another of the candidates, criticized what he called “poisonous gossip” and “attacking notes” issued by some colleagues over the weekend.

“It’s not the house of cards or the game of thrones, and people who are here just because they like the game, they’re in the wrong place,” he said. “Now is the time to come together, not to separate.”

The race followed one of the most tumultuous periods in modern British political history, when more than 50 ministers and government aides resigned, slamming Johnson’s character, integrity and inability to speak the truth.

With many lawmakers unhappy that the disgraced Johnson remains in office until a successor is found, the party is seeking to speed up the election process.

TAX CUTS

The issue of tax cuts was quickly becoming the central battle of the race, with nearly every candidate promising to cut taxes for businesses or individuals.

Presenting her case, Truss, who has held cabinet posts in a number of government departments including commerce, justice and the treasury, said she would reverse the recent increase in National Insurance contributions and signaled a corporate tax reduction.

Fellow contenders Jeremy Hunt and Javid have both pledged to cut corporation tax, while former defense minister Penny Mordaunt has pledged to cut fuel taxes.

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak is the early front-runner, but he is the only candidate to have downplayed the prospect of impending tax cuts, saying embracing “heartwarming fairy tales” would make things worse for future generations.

It prompted rivals to attack his economic record after the tax burden hit its highest level since the 1950s. .

“FANTASTIC ECONOMY”

Nadhim Zahawi, appointed finance minister in last week’s turmoil, said he was also being targeted by rivals after media raised questions about the former man’s personal finances and tax record. ‘business.

Whoever wins the leadership race will face a daunting entry board.

Britain’s economy is facing soaring inflation, high debt and weak growth, with people facing the tightest strain on their finances in decades, all amid an energy crisis exacerbated by war in Ukraine which caused fuel prices to skyrocket.

On the issue of immigration, all the main leadership candidates have pledged to maintain the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, showing how the party has moved to the right of the political spectrum. these last years.

Other candidates include Attorney General Suella Braverman, Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

A Conservative MP said he was surprised by the number of his fellow citizens who are running for the leadership race.

“I shouldn’t be surprised by the ambitions and delusions of some of my colleagues, but I am,” he said. “I expect us to narrow down the list of candidates very quickly.”

In a speech, opposition labor leader Keir Starmer took aim at a ‘fantasy economy arms race’ by Tory leadership candidates, saying more than £200bn (£239bn dollars) of commitments made by them over the weekend were unfunded.

Johnson declined to endorse any of the nominees.

($1 = 0.8357 pounds)

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Additional reporting by Muvija M and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Hugh Lawson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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