Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt… who are the possible candidates to replace her?

In a flammable political and economic context, Liz Truss, who resigned from her post as Prime Minister on Thursday October 20, only lasted forty-four days in Downing Street, a record for shortness in British political history.

In an emergency, the Conservative Party chose to resort to an express primary to appoint his or her successor, for lack of a natural candidate. With one rule: gather the sponsorships of at least one hundred bench colleagues in Westminster (out of 357 Conservative MPs), by Monday, October 24. This should make it possible to limit the number of official applications to a maximum of three.

The suitors will then be decided by their peers and, possibly, by the members of the tories in the final phase if there are three in the race. The name of the successor of Mme Truss will be known by Friday, October 28.

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Who are the candidates to take over as head of the British government? Overview of the names circulating the most among Conservative MPs and in the press since Thursday evening.

Rishi Sunak, reassuring figure of budgetary orthodoxy

Rishi Sunak leaving his house in London the day after Liz Truss' resignation was announced on October 21, 2022.

Beaten by Liz Truss during the final phase of the process of appointing the leader of the Conservative Party, this summer, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (2020-2022) was however given favorite of the conservative deputies. Rishi Sunak, however, remains a strong candidate to take over from his ex-rival.

The wealthy ex-banker, aged 42, embodies the reassuring figure of budgetary orthodoxy. He repeatedly, during the Conservative Party’s internal summer campaign, repeated that unfunded tax cuts risked worsening inflation and undermining market confidence, warning ” fairy tales “ represented by the economic program of its competitor.

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The facts proved him right. Barely a few weeks after the implementation of its “minibudget”, Mme Truss had to give it up. It featured a massive unfunded tax cut for the wealthy, which caused financial market panic and public discontent.

Still, the former finance minister has a major handicap in the eyes of the most conservative Tories: many of Boris Johnson’s loyalists see him as a traitor, since it was his resignation from the government in July that precipitated the downfall of the former Downing Street tenant. His desire to raise taxes to finance public services is also decried by the right wing of the party.

Penny Mordaunt, moderate candidate and charismatic figure

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons, during Government Questions, answering questions on behalf of Prime Minister Liz Truss, Monday October 17, 2022.

Also a candidate against Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson, Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Relations with Parliament, was the darling of Conservative activists at the start of the campaign, before finishing in third position. She declared herself a candidate on Friday October 21 on Twitter.

Benefiting from a natural authority and an oratorical talent hailed by all within her party, this former Minister of Defense, aged 49, distinguished herself on Monday in Parliament, where she replaced Liz Truss in the face of the opposition, confidently defending the change in economic direction and explaining that the Prime Minister “don’t hide under a desk”.

Within the Tories, this former Minister of International Trade (2021-2022) is considered a moderate. Penny Mordaunt notably positioned herself, during the race for the succession of Boris Johnson, as offering a clean break with the latter, whose balance sheet and image have been marred by scandals. The former prime minister had dismissed her as secretary of state for defense in 2019, after only three months.

If this moderate image can make her appear as the ideal candidate to help heal divisions within the party, it is also a hindrance. She will find it difficult to convince the right wing of the Tories, which refuses to admit defeat despite the resounding failure of its champion, a few months after that of Boris Johnson. She also remains unknown to most Britons.

Boris Johnson, an increasingly probable hypothesis

Boris Johnson, during his resignation speech as Prime Minister, on July 7, 2022, outside 10 Downing Street, London.

The hypothesis of a return of Boris Johnson, just over three months after he was pushed to resign, became increasingly likely on Friday, after rumors circulated in Westminster as soon as Truss.

The former head of government, who his relatives say was on holiday in the Caribbean when the announcement was made, is said to have sounded out Tory MPs about the possibility of a return and was announced on the plane to the UK. United Friday morning.

Still highly appreciated by party members, “BoJo” would present itself as an obvious recourse to the institutional crisis, “in the interest of the country”, a crisis yet triggered after his ouster from 10 Downing Street. Those close to him highlight the legitimacy he derives from his electoral triumph at the end of 2019, in the last elections to date.

But if his candidacy is confirmed, it will probably be difficult for him to bring together a hundred elected supporters, dozens of Conservative MPs having ousted him, exasperated by the “Partygate”, the holiday scandal in Downing Street in full sanitary confinement, which cost him his place.

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His internal and external opponents in the Conservative Party also recall the succession of lies and embarrassing affairs that occurred during the three years of his mandate, which left deep scars and damaged the country’s image. Some Tory MPs are even warning they would quit if Mr Johnson returns to power.

As he embraces a profitable business as a speaker around the world, it remains to be seen whether Mr Johnson, 58, would be ready to take control of the party two years from the general elections, with polls promising a landslide victory for the Party. Labour, in a deteriorated and worrying economic climate.

Ben Wallace, the highly respected Minister of Defense

Ben Wallace, Britain's Defense Minister, arrives for a cabinet meeting, in Downing Street, London, October 11, 2022.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, a Conservative majority heavyweight, announced on Friday that he “leaned” rather for ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to replace Liz Truss at 10 Downing Street. If he has ruled out for the moment to get into the race himself, he nevertheless qualified: “But you know, there are still several days left, we will see what happens. »

Among the favorites in the last campaign to lead the Conservative Party, the Minister of Defense in office since 2019 had chosen not to run, to devote himself to the security of the United Kingdom. He then supported Liz Truss.

But his name has resurfaced for several days as that of a possible figure of unity for the party. His experience at the head of a key ministry, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, and his longevity in the post contribute to his respectability, within the conservatives as well as in public opinion.

Aged 52, he however dismissed the scenario of a candidacy before the effective resignation of Mme Truss on Thursday, when things had been getting worse for her for a week. He ensured Tuesday, October 18 in the Times want to stay in his ministry. But the evolution of the political situation could lead him to reconsider his position.

Read also: Resignation of Liz Truss in the United Kingdom: Brexit, “elephant in the room”

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