Next UK PM: 8 candidates in fray as poll hots up, results to be announced on Sept 5

First rounds of elections scheduled for Wednesday and later this week

By Prasun Sonwalkar

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Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at his campaign to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister. –Reuters
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at his campaign to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister. –Reuters

Published: Tue 12 Jul 2022, 6:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Jul 2022, 10:45 PM

There was intense positioning among 8 candidates on issues such as tax and cost of living, as the ruling Conservative party’s committee organising the election to the next prime minister announced a timetable, due to culminate in unveiling the winner on September 5.

Candidates were due to submit formal bids by 6pm UK time on Tuesday, with the first rounds of polling scheduled for Wednesday and later this week. Each candidate needs to be supported by 20 MPs at the nomination stage, and those with less than 30 votes in the first round on Wednesday would be eliminated.

But two candidates in the race withdrew as nominations with the required support of 20 MPs closed at 6pm UK time: Sajid Javid and Rehman Chishti.

The process will continue until the number of candidates is whittled down to two. The 1922 Committee announced September 5 as the date when the new prime minister’s name would be unveiled, but the identity of the winner could be clear earlier if one of the last two candidates concedes in favour of the other.

Grant Shapps, who was one of the candidates, withdrew in favour of Rishi Sunak on Tuesday.

The eight candidates now in the fray are: Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman and Jeremy Hunt. After days of consideration, home secretary Priti Patel decided not to contest the election.

Sunak remains the favourite with the most number of MPs declaring their support so far, but one poll within the Conservative party put him in third place, behind Mordaunt and Badenoch. Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab announced his support for Sunak.

There is a possibility of Mordaunt or Truss emerging as the ‘Stop Rishi’ candidate, given the strong feelings Sunak evokes in sections of the party, particularly in the pro-Brexit group called European Research Group.

Sunak, Tugendhat and Badenoch formally launched their campaigns on Tuesday live on television. Most candidates have promised tax cuts, but Sunak insisted that the cuts will happen, but only when inflation is tamed and finances are in better shape: “It is a question of when, not if," he said.

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