LONDON | Former British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was careful not to criticize Boris Johnson on Tuesday by launching his campaign for the race in Downing Street, while the official filing of candidacies to succeed the resigning Prime Minister closes in the day. /strong>
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who resigned with a bang from the government last week, taking with him some sixty other members of the executive and ultimately the resignation of the Prime Minister, is now among the favorites to succeed Boris Johnson.
Mr. Sunak, 42, however, was careful not to criticize his former boss, saying in his speech launching his campaign that “Boris Johnson is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met and whatever say some commentators, he has a good background”.
Boris Johnson has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party after around 60 members of his executive slammed the door, tired of repeated scandals. However, he remains prime minister until his successor is announced on September 5.
Since last week, Rishi Sunak has come under fierce attack from supporters of Mr Johnson who accuse him of having led the Prime Minister to his downfall.
“Did I disagree with him (Boris Johnson)? Yes, and that's why I resigned,” he said, refusing however to “demonize Boris, exaggerate his faults and deny his efforts”.
Ten contenders were in the running on Tuesday to become leader of the Conservatives – and therefore prime minister – as the official submission of candidacies closes during the day. An eleventh candidate, Transport Minister Grant Shapps, eventually withdrew.
Bookmakers neck and neck Rishi Sunak and former Defense Minister Penny Mordaunt, followed by Business Minister foreign Liz Truss.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, once a candidate, ultimately ruled out any candidacy.
The campaign so far has been limited to bombastic launch videos, vague promises – most candidates assuring that they will implement tax cuts without explaining how they will finance the rest of their policy – and to controversies of all kinds.
Unlike his rivals, Rishi Sunak has been cautious about tax cuts amid high inflation. “It's a question of 'when', not 'if'”, he however reassured.
“We have to return to the conservative values of the economy and that means honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales”.
Mr. Sunak had been criticized when he was finance minister for not doing enough to relieve British households strangled by the cost of living crisis.
Motion of no confidence
The 1922 committee, a conservative parliamentary group responsible for establishing the rules of the ballot, must announce on Tuesday which candidates are officially in the running and a first round to eliminate contenders is scheduled for Wednesday, a second Thursday and if necessary another next Monday. /p>
Applicants will need at least 20 referrals for their application to be accepted. The final vote is open only to party members.
The objective is to have only two candidates left before the parliamentary recess which begins on July 22. The name of the future Prime Minister will be known on September 5, the 1922 committee said.
Too late, says the Labor Party, which has planned to table a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Tuesday, for a vote on Wednesday according to Labour's sources.
Labour plans to convince Tory MPs to back them to get Boris Johnson out of Downing Street sooner.
'They can't let him hang on for weeks until September 5, it would be intolerable for the country,” said opposition leader Keir Starmer.
It is unlikely, however, that such a motion, carried by Labor, will supported by many Tories. If successful, it would trigger a general election in which the Conservatives could lose the large majority they obtained in 2019, in the wake of the election of the then ultra-popular Boris Johnson.