(London) Three new high-ranking contenders for the succession of the British prime minister entered the race on Saturday evening, including ex-health minister Savid Javid, bringing the number of candidates to eight.
In addition to Mr Javid, the new finance minister Nadhim Zahawi and former foreign and health minister Jeremy Hunt, who faced Boris Johnson in 2019 for the leadership of the Conservative party, were candidates.
They had been preceded by the current British Secretary of State for Transport while Defense Minister Ben Wallace decided not to appear.
Ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak is among the heavyweights entering the race.
Two days after the announcement of the resignation of Boris Johnson, 58, weakened by scandals and overwhelmed by the resignation of Mr. Sunak which led to others, his potential successors continue to reveal their intentions.
The competition that will open for the head of the Conservative Party and therefore Downing Street, the Tories being the majority in the House of Commons, could last several months.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced his candidacy by promising a “strategic” and “sober” government. An experienced MP who made his debut in the cabinet of former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, he is not one of the favorites in the polls.
No more than three other candidates also declared, the ex-secretary of State for Equality Kemi Badenoch, the attorney general Suella Braverman and the deputy Tom Tugendhat.
On the other hand, the former Minister of Finance Rishi Sunak, 42, was the first major suitor to launch his candidacy on Friday, in a particularly polished video, to the point of fueling suspicions of candidacy prepared for a long time and of betrayal.
In this clip which made seven million views on Saturday, Mr. Sunak promises to “restore confidence”, “rebuild the economy and reunify the country”.
Long a favorite to enter Downing Street if Boris Johnson fell, Rishi Sunak found himself significantly weakened a few months ago after the revelation of the advantageous tax status enjoyed by his wealthy wife, which allowed him to avoid pay tax on overseas income to the UK tax authorities.
He had also suffered from a response deemed insufficient by public opinion in the face of the cost of living crisis, in a United Kingdom plagued by inflation at its highest for 40 years (more than 9%).
The announcement of his candidacy, to which several MPs immediately rallied, apparently created a rebound: a poll on Friday for Channel 4 of 493 party members gave him the Conservatives’ favorite candidate (25%), ahead of Foreign Minister Liz Truss (21%) who has not yet declared herself.
Still, the faithful of Boris Johnson have not digested the attitude of Mr. Sunak, the Financial Times evoking on Saturday a “huge anger” towards him within the team of the outgoing Prime Minister.
Rishi Sunak had been one of the first to quit government on Tuesday night, apparently without even telling Boris Johnson, along with Health Minister Sajid Javid. These two almost simultaneous resignations had triggered a politically fatal hemorrhage for the hero of Brexit.
Raising of thresholds
The state of the party suggests a very open competition, in which the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Penny Mordaunt, who did not declare herself, and Sajid Javid are also serious competitors.
Another heavyweight who was among the favorites, Defense Minister Ben Wallace, on the other hand decided on Saturday not to appear.
Despite many supporters, and a leading role in British policy towards Ukraine, Mr. Wallace explained that he wanted to concentrate on his current task and “ensure the security of the country”.
In a context of the cost of living crisis, taxation should play an important role in the competition, and up to fifteen applications are expected in total.
Faced with the prospect of such an influx, an increase in the number of sponsorships and votes required in the first part of the designation process is envisaged, explained a member of the 1922 Committee, responsible for the internal organization of the party. And this so that the two finalists can be known within two weeks, before the summer parliamentary truce which begins on July 22.
The final vote of members of the Conservative Party – 160,000 voters in the last internal election of 2019 – would then take place by the start of the school year, according to the scenario which seems to be emerging in the British press.
Announcing his resignation, Boris Johnson said he intended to stay in Downing Street until the new party leader was elected.