Race to Downing Street: Choice time for the Tories

Race to Downing Street: Choice time for the Tories

Members of Britain’s Conservative Party begin voting this week to choose their new leader, who will succeed Boris Johnson in Downing Street in five weeks, with Liz Truss now the clear favorite over Rishi Sunak.

On the strength of favorable polls after the first televised duels opposing the former finance minister, the head of diplomacy, who promises massive tax cuts, accumulates rallies while the race for Downing Street between in the heart of the matter.

The members of the party in power for 12 years, whose exact number remains confidential but which is estimated at nearly 200,000 (less than 0.3% of the population), have until September 2 to express their choice during a postal vote.

The ballots should arrive by the end of the week from members, who represent a rather old, male and white electorate. The result is expected on September 5.

After a very open start to the campaign and a series of five votes reserved for party MPs alone to select the two finalists, the suspense seems to have died down.

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Birmingham, July 28, 2022 (POOL/AFP/Archives – Peter Byrne)

Favorite candidate of the majority deputies, who tirelessly put him in the lead during the first phase of the internal ballot, Rishi Sunak, 42, praised for his action during the COVID-19 pandemic, is much less popular with the party base.

Aged 47, Liz Truss has received a series of supporters in recent days: the former Minister in charge of Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, the unsuccessful candidate MP at the head of the party Tom Tugendhat and especially the Minister of Defense Ben Wallace, highly respected within the party, who highlighted his “experience” in wartime Ukraine.

– “Stabbed in the back” –

“The race is very, very close and I fight for every vote”, assured Liz Truss in the campaign during the weekend.

While she had appeared rigid and uncomfortable during some of the debates in the early stages of the competition, she has seemed more relaxed and confident in recent days, as Rishi Sunak relied on her speaking skills to catch up.

She came out even stronger on Thursday evening from the first of a series of 12 great orals against conservative activists.

The second exercise of its kind is scheduled for Monday evening in the city of Exeter, in the south-west of England.

Hatred by the Johnson camp, Rishi Sunak was accused by an activist of having “stabbed in the back” the Prime Minister. His resignation helped precipitate an avalanche of government departures which left Boris Johnson with no choice but to announce his departure, after months of scandals, foremost among which were the parties organized in Downing Street during the heavy confinements. of sacrifice for the British.

Rishi Sunak (l) and Liz Truss, the two contenders to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservatives and British Prime Minister, during a televised debate on the BBC, in Stoke-on-Trent (UK) , July 25, 2022 (POOL/AFP/Archives - Jacob King)
Rishi Sunak (l) and Liz Truss, the two contenders to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservatives and British Prime Minister, during a televised debate on the BBC, in Stoke-on-Trent (UK) , July 25, 2022 (POOL/AFP/Archives – Jacob King)

Since the start of the internal campaign, where environmental issues are hardly mentioned, the two finalists have been mainly opposed on taxation.

On the one hand, Liz Truss promises tax cuts “from day one”, announcing in particular that she would reverse an increase in social security contributions introduced in the spring to finance the public health system strained by the pandemic. .

Rishi Sunak meanwhile warns against ‘fairy tales’ and warns that he thinks it is best to wait for inflation, at its highest level in 40 years, to fade before considering a drop in pressure tax. This very rich ex-banker, however, recently initiated a change by promising a reduction in VAT on energy to relieve households.

To seduce the conservative base, he also promised a tightening of migration rules and embarked on the weekend in the culture wars dear to the right wing of the party. He promised to stop “leftist agitators” from “bulldozing our history, our traditions and our core values”.

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