Tory leadership race heats up, Johnson to leave with ‘head held high’
London, Jul 13 (EFE).- The race to replace Boris Johnson as the United Kingdom’s prime minister and head of the Conservative Party got underway with a first round of voting on Wednesday.
The outgoing leader told lawmakers that although he was not stepping down of his own choosing, he was doing so with his “head held high.”
Six candidates vying to replace the extravagant and controversial Tory leader made the cut of the first ballot on Wednesday, including three of the bookmakers’ favorites – former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, trade minister Penny Mordaunt and foreign secretary Liz Truss.
Sunak was leading the race with 88 votes, ahead of Mordaunt’s 67 and Truss’ 50.
Former minister for equalities Kemi Badenoch secured 40 votes, Tom Tugendhat, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, won 37 votes, while Suella Braverman, the Attorney General for England and Wales, obtained 32.
The next stage of the process is due to get underway Thursday with a series of votes that will eventually whittle the slate down to two leading candidates.
Their fate will then be left to left to members of the Conservative Party, with the winner due to be announced on September 5, according to the schedule laid out by the parliamentary party.
In what was ostensibly his penultimate appearance at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons, the country’s lower but more powerful chamber, Johnson said he was proud of his achievements on Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
Johnson was forced to announce his resignation as the leader of his Conservative Party, and therefore as prime minister, on July 7 after dozens of government ministers resigned in a bid to remove him after a slew of scandals that rocked his tenure.
He is due to attend a final PMQs next week before the summer recess, although on Wednesday suggested during the debate with his rival, Labour Party chief Keir Starmer, that his departure could be expedited if a new Tory leader is ushered in by “acclamation.”
Johnson has said he would officially tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II on September 6. EFE