Race to Downing Street: Sunak in the lead, ahead of Mordaunt

Race to Downing Street: Sunak in the lead, ahead of Mordaunt

Britain’s ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak was once again put in the lead by Tory MPs on Thursday in the second round of internal voting to choose Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s successor, ahead of poll favorite Penny Mordaunt, against a backdrop of increasing attacks.

Rishi Sunak, 42, won 101 votes, ahead of Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Penny Mordaunt (83 votes) and Foreign Minister Liz Truss, third with 64 votes.

The attorney general – in charge of legal advice to the government – Suella Braverman (27 votes) has been eliminated, while the former secretary of state for equality Kemi Badenoch and the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat remain in the race, with 49 and 32 votes respectively.

Other rounds of voting are scheduled for next week to designate the two finalists before the parliamentary break on July 21. They will be decided during a postal vote reserved for party members only, the result of which must be announced on September 5. They were 160,000 to have taken part in this election in 2019.

A week after the announcement of the resignation of Boris Johnson, swept away by cascading departures within a government tired of scandals, Ms Mordaunt, a 49-year-old former defense minister, would beat all her rivals in a duel final, according to a YouGov poll.

– Anti woke –

If on the right of the party, criticism has so far focused on Rishi Sunak, some denouncing a “socialist” responsible for the fall of Boris Johnson, it is towards Penny Mordaunt that the blows are now being struck.

In a vitriolic campaign, some Tories now believe that she has too “woke” positions, having declared that “trans women are women”, when she was Secretary of State for Equality.

Since becoming a candidate, Penny Mordaunt has completely changed her speech, even attempting a transphobic joke during her launch meeting on Wednesday.

“I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said everyone needs a Willie (Whitelaw, the former Prime Minister’s number 2). A woman like me doesn’t have one,” he said. she affirmed, under the bursts of laughter. In English, “willy” also means penis.

Eliminated on Thursday, Suella Braverman criticized her opponent for not having “defended women” and not having “reflected the opinion of a large part of our party which wants women to be authentically represented”. According to Sky News, she has made it known that she will support Liz Truss.

David Frost, the former Brexit negotiator, has meanwhile questioned the professional qualities of Penny Mordaunt when she worked for him, issuing on Talk TV channel “serious reservations” about her ability to lead the country.

Some conservatives still see it as the best option to turn the page on the Johnson era and its share of scandals. But only 11% of Britons are able to name her by seeing her face, according to a Savanta ComRes study. Some even confuse her with singer Adele, but her notoriety is growing, according to another YouGov poll.

– Truss launches –

Another serious candidate, the head of diplomacy Liz Truss launched her campaign on Thursday, supported by the Johnson camp. “I will campaign like a conservative and I will govern like a conservative,” proclaimed the 46-year-old minister who did not however register Thursday during the new round of voting the decisive rebound hoped for by carrying over votes.

For his part, former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, eliminated on Wednesday, decided to support Rishi Sunak, “one of the most correct, straight and honest people” in politics.

He said he was “extremely grateful” for the support of his colleagues who put him in the lead in both rounds.

Rishi Sunak cultivates a slick image but has been criticized due to his wealth and his wealthy wife’s tax status. His detractors also accuse him of not having done enough to relieve households strangled by the cost of living crisis while inflation, 9.1% in May, is breaking records.

“I don’t judge people on their bank account, I judge them on their person,” retorted the interested party on the BBC.

Among the five candidates still in the running are three women, a black contender and a person of Indian origin. This historical diversity, in a country that has never known a non-white head of government, is a non-subject in the campaign, spared for the moment by racist or sexist controversies.

Three televised debates are scheduled for the next few days, the first Friday evening.

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