October 1, 2022
Voting closes in race to decide next PM

Voting closes in race to decide next PM

Voting has closed in the UK’s Conservative leadership contest to decide who will replace Boris Johnson as prime minister.

The two contenders, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, will find out which of them has won the ballot of Tory members at 12.30pm (UK time) on Monday (11.30pm NZT).

The winner will be formally appointed prime minister the day after by the Queen.

They will then begin appointing ministers to their new cabinet.

Johnson, who led the Tories to a landslide victory at the 2019 election, will remain in office until the transfer of power is complete.

The fractious campaign to replace him has seen the candidates regularly attack each other’s policies as well as the Tories’ record in government.

Truss, the foreign secretary, is the clear favourite to win, according to polls of Tory members. She has promised to deliver billions of pounds in tax cuts in an emergency Budget if she wins power.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he would cut VAT on energy bills for a year, but permanent tax cuts should wait until inflation goes down.

With the cap on domestic energy prices set to soar in the autumn, what to do about rising living costs has dominated the contest in recent weeks.

Both candidates have come under pressure to spell out how they would protect households from the rises, as well as give help to businesses, which are not covered by the price cap.

Johnson left big spending decisions to his successor after his resignation in July, leading opposition parties to accuse the government of paralysis.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement in front of 10 Downing Street in central London on July 7, 2022. - Johnson quit as Conservative party leader, after three tumultuous years in charge marked by Brexit, Covid and mounting scandals. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Outgoing PM Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

Truss has said she would reverse April’s rise to National Insurance and cut green levies on energy bills to help households with costs. She has signalled she would provide more support on top of this, but has offered no details.

Sunak has said he would make further payments to pensioners and the low-paid over winter, on top of the payments they are already due to receive.

The contest began in mid-July, when Johnson was forced out by a ministerial revolt over a string of scandals.

The original field of 11 contenders was whittled down to two in a series of Tory MP ballots, with the final two going into a run-off to be decided by the membership, which stands at around 160,000.

Although Sunak had the most support among Tory MPs, opinion polls have suggested Truss enjoys more support among party members.

As the campaign drew to a close, Sunak thanked his supporters and said he had “loved every second” of his “six weeks on the road”.

Truss also thanked volunteers on her campaign, and said if she is elected she would “do everything in my power to make sure our great nation succeeds”.

In a break with tradition, the winner will travel to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be appointed by the Queen, rather than at Buckingham Palace.

She has been suffering from mobility issues and it is understood the change was made to prevent the need for any last-minute rearrangements.


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