Race to Downing Street: It will be a Rishi Sunak/Liz Truss duel

Race to Downing Street: It will be a Rishi Sunak/Liz Truss duel< /p> UPDATE DAY

LONDON | In seven weeks, one of them will lead the British government: ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak and foreign minister Liz Truss qualified for the final duel in the Downing Street race to succeed on Wednesday to Boris Johnson. 

Selected by the party's deputies after a series of five votes, the two competitors will be decided by the 200,000 members of the conservative party, after a vote by correspondence, the result of which is expected for September 5.

In the meantime, they will travel around the United Kingdom from the end of July to the end of August to participate in a series of debates to convince the activists, announced the conservative party.

Rishi Sunak obtained 137 votes from Conservative MPs on Wednesday, ahead of Liz Truss (113 votes) and Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Penny Mordaunt, eliminated with 105 votes, according to results announced by Graham Brady, the head of the organization of the internal ballot.

After the resignation on July 7 of Boris Johnson, swept away by scandals, it is now certain that the British government will be led either for the first time by a non-white man, or for the third time by a woman.

After their qualification for the final was announced, both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss presented themselves as capable of beating the Labor opposition in the next election scheduled for 2024, which the accumulation of scandals under Boris Johnson propelled to the top of the polls .

Whether long-established or elected when Boris Johnson triumphed at the end of 2019, many Tory MPs fear losing their seats after the Tories have been in power for 12 years.< /p>

Bowing out during a final question and answer session in Parliament as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson split a “hasta la vista, baby” and advice for whoever will succeed him: “ Stay close to Americans, support Ukrainians, fight for freedom and democracy everywhere. Lower taxes and deregulate where you can to make this country the best place to live and invest.”

Very open race

Rishi Sunak, 42, whose departure from the government in early July helped precipitate the fall of Boris Johnson, has been in the lead since the first vote of Tory MPs.

However, the competition, very open, is far from won for the one who seems less popular with the base of the party than with the deputies.

According to a YouGov poll published on Tuesday, the ex-finance minister would be largely beaten in the final .

Conversely, Liz Truss, 46, was deemed unconvincing last week but managed to catch up, to the point of taking second place from Penny Mordaunt in the last vote.

Aged 49 years old and almost unknown to the British 10 days ago, this former Minister of Defense had been propelled favorite in a YouGov poll last week but deemed vague and unconvincing during two televised debates.

Her campaign team presented her as embodying “the change” while her two rivals, heavyweights under Johnson, are the candidates for “continuity”.

She thanked in a tweet her teams for their “ hard work”, “we move forward together”.

The crisis of confidence and the questions of integrity marked the campaign, the candidates all claiming to want to turn – at least in form – the page of the scandal-ridden Johnson era. 

The candidates also debated widely over how they intended to tackle the cost-of-living crisis that is strangling British households, as inflation has further accelerated in June, to 9.4% over one year.

A debate between the two finalists will be held next Monday on the BBC, announced the public audiovisual group. It will take place live from Stoke-on-Trent, a city in central England which voted more than 69% for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, to an audience of 80-100 people.

< p>Another debate is scheduled for August 4 on the private Sky News channel.