Britain’s Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss has become the latest name to join the race to become the next leader of the governing Conservative Party, as the process of deciding Boris Johnson’s successor formally gets underway.
Truss and the little-known Rehman Chishti joining the race take the number of candidates putting themselves forward to 11, with other big names including Sajid Javid, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt.
Conservative members of Parliament will have a series of votes to whittle down the candidates to the final two, and then it will be a vote of the wider party membership, numbering around 100,000.
Bob Blackman, who is the joint executive secretary of the backbench 1922 Committee that will oversee the voting process, told Sky News it was likely that candidates would need to have at least 20 supporters to be allowed to take part in the first round, with a likely cutoff point of 36 votes－10 percent of MPs－to be allowed to advance to the next round.
“The view is that candidates to get on the ballot paper should demonstrate a broad swath of support amongst Conservative MPs,” he said. “So we’re looking at a proposer, a seconder and either 18 supporters or possibly more supporters in order to reduce that list.”
The winner is also likely to replace Johnson as prime minister, though this is not guaranteed as the opposition Labour Party plans to call a no-confidence vote in Parliament, which could bring about a general election, but this looks unlikely to succeed.
A new resident of Downing Street would mean that the winner would become the third consecutive Conservative leader to become the prime minister before they won an election, following Theresa May, who took over from David Cameron when he resigned in 2016, and Johnson, who replaced May in 2019.
One candidate, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed to his position by Johnson last Tuesday, said he is being “smeared” over his finances, after newspaper stories about his tax returns being probed. He claimed he has “never used an offshore company to avoid tax”.
“I was told that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, the HMRC(government tax department), were looking into me,” he said. “I’m not aware of this. I’ve always declared my taxes－I’ve paid my taxes in the United Kingdom.”
The issue of tax cuts has already emerged as one of the main battlegrounds, with many candidates making promises on the issue.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also made a direct appeal to Conservative MPs, rather than a promise to the wider public.
“My case for leadership is simple: I can plan, I can deliver, I can communicate, I can campaign, I can help you win your seat,” he said in a campaign video.