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UK: Boris Johnson's successor to be named in September

July 12, 2022

Some 11 candidates are vying to replace Boris Johnson but that number will be whittled down to two candidates who will be voted for by party members across the country.

UK PM Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Johnson was forced to step down after his cabinet rebelled against himImage: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/dpa/picture alliance

The race to replace outgoing UK prime minister Boris Johnson is set to conclude September 5, the ruling Conservative party said on Monday. Some 11 candidates are vying for the job, with the voting process beginning this week. 

"I am very keen we get this concluded as smoothly, cleanly, and rapidly as possible," said Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee of non-ministerial Tory MPs in parliament, which is leading the selection process.

Under Britain's parliamentary system, Boris Johnson's replacement will automatically become prime minister without the need for a general election.

The Conservative leadership contest was triggered last week when Johnson was forced to step down. A flurry of more than 50 resignations hit the prime minister in recent weeks, as his own team turned on him over his scandal-ridden premiership.

In a bid to speed up the process, candidates must have at least 20 MPs backing them in order to enter the race, up from the usual eight, and any candidate who fails to get the support of 30 MPs in the first ballot will be eliminated.

Johnson was asked directly if he would endorse any particular candidates, but he declined to do so. "The job of the prime minister at this stage is to let the party decide, let them get on with it, and to continue delivering on the projects that we were elected to deliver," Johnson said.

UK Tory leader race expands to nine

Who is vying for the job?

The new Conservative leader will be chosen in a two-stage election, in which the 358 Conservative lawmakers reduce the race to two candidates through a series of elimination votes. Candidates who fail to get at least 30 votes are eliminated at each round.

Finally, the last two candidates standing are voted on by party members across the country. 

Within the long list of potential successors are former finance minister Rishi Sunak and former health minister Sajid Javid. Their departures from Johnson's cabinet sparked the wave of resignations that brought down his government.

But his foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Sunak's successor Nadhim Zahawi have also declared bids, while Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly deciding whether or not to run.

Sunak is considered to be a front-runner and several contenders are vocally setting themselves apart by rejecting the tax increases Sunak introduced to shore up UK finances battered by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, with candidates say they will get rid of them.

Whoever manages to win the leadership race will have a number of challenges to contend with off the bat. Britain's economy is facing rocketing inflation, high debt, and low growth, representing the tightest squeeze on British people's finances in decades, all during an energy crunch exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which has sent fuel prices soaring.

jcg/kb (Reuters AP)