Race to Downing Street: the dice are cast, the result proclaimed on Monday
The Downing Street race is over: Internal voting in Britain’s Conservative Party ended on Friday, with Liz Truss the big favorite to win against Rishi Sunak after a summer of near power vacuum amid the cost of living crisis .
Polls and successive rallies have only confirmed the considerable lead of the 47-year-old foreign minister over the 42-year-old former finance minister in the Conservative Party.
After the end of the vote of the members on Friday evening, the result will be announced Monday at 12:30 p.m. (11:30 GMT). Except for a twist, Liz Truss will become the fourth British Prime Minister on Tuesday since the Brexit referendum in 2016, the third woman in this position after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.
She will succeed Boris Johnson, forced to resign in early July by the accumulation of scandals. And will be eagerly awaited to respond urgently to soaring energy bills which are strangling households, schools, hospitals and businesses, leading to social conflicts like never since the Thatcher years (1979-1990).
“It will be a very, very big surprise if she does not win,” John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde, told AFP, noting the minister’s ability to “politically seduce Conservative adherents and articulate a clear message for them”.
After a campaign summer studded with 12 meetings with a total of nearly 20,000 voters across the country, Liz Truss assured Friday that she had “a bold project that will grow the economy”, repeating her promise to lower taxes and reduce bureaucracy.
Rishi Sunak said for his part “know what to do to overcome the difficult period” which is coming.
A seasoned politician who has been holding ministerial positions for ten years, Liz Truss has seduced the base by promising massive tax cuts and adopting a very harsh tone against the unions. This has earned her comparison to Margaret Thatcher, an icon of conservatism, although her rival is working to dispute her legacy by posing as a champion of budgetary prudence.
Rishi Sunak, the grandson of Indian immigrants who would become the country’s first non-white prime minister if he were to surprise, has struggled to shed his image as a wealthy technocrat, lecturer and traitor who precipitated the downfall of Boris Johnson by slamming the door of the government in early July.
The latter remains regretted by some of the members – more male, older and white than the average British – called to vote. Their exact number will not be revealed until Monday but it is estimated at less than 200,000, or 0.3% of the British population.
– Round trip to Scotland –
On Tuesday, Boris Johnson will hand in his resignation to Elizabeth II at her summer residence at Balmoral in Scotland, a first for the 96-year-old sovereign who has difficulty moving around and will not make the trip to London.
His successor will follow to become the 15th head of government in the monarch’s 70-year reign, before returning to London to deliver his first speech outside 10 Downing Street, form his government and face opposition leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday. for the first time in Parliament.
The pressure will be considerable to act quickly. The cost of living crisis has taken a dramatic turn, with the announcement of an 80% rise in household energy bills in October which could push inflation, already at more than 10%, up to 22% according to the most alarmist forecasts.
From transport to postal workers, including dockers and lawyers, the strikes continue to spread.
Remained vague during the campaign on her intentions, Liz Truss promised “immediate support” for households in difficulty, without announcing any concrete measures.
Boris Johnson, he was conspicuous by his absence during the summer, going on vacation to Slovenia and then to Greece. He refused to rule out a return to politics and his presence looks cumbersome. Thursday, he promised his “full support” to whoever will replace him: “And for the rest, life goes on”.
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