Tory hopefuls line up to challenge Sunak
Rivals fighting to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative party and the next Prime Minister have exposed a gulf over the direction of tax policies.
Most of those seeking the job have declared a plan to cut taxes, pitching their campaigns against former Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s record of raising taxes and cautious approach to public finances.
Promises to cut taxes may prove popular among the membership fearful that the cost of living is undermining support for the party on the doorstep and among business leaders. In particular there are pledges to reduce corporation tax and National Insurance.
Of 11 so far seeking the job, the battle is forming around supporters of Mr Sunak and the candidate best placed to defeat him.
That is likely to be the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or Home Secretary Priti Patel, both representing the right wing faction.
With Ms Truss declaring her candidacy, and likely to be joined by Ms Patel, odds are also shortening on Trade minister Penny Mordaunt, who was a former governor at the World Bank.
New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps were yesterday joined by former health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.
The latest entries into the race followed the surprise announcement by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace – considered the bookies’ favourite – that he does not wish to be considered.
Others who have thrown their hat into the ring include Attorney General Suella Braverman, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and newly-appointed Foreign Office Minister Rehman Chishti .
Mr Sunak had reportedly urged Mr Javid – who resigned from the Cabinet with him last Tuesday – to step aside and join his campaign in a pact that would clear the way for him to get the job. Allies of Mr Sunak say he and Mr Javid are competing for the same voters.
It is said that Sir Gavin Williamson, George Eustice and Sir Robert Buckland, will throw their support behind Mr Sunak in the next few days.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, said nominations to be leader of will close on Tuesday.
Under an accelerated process the first ballot will take place on Wednesday and candidates will be expected to have 20 supporters, including their proposer and seconder.
Candidates must win at least 30 votes from party colleagues to progress. A second ballot is planned for Thursday.
If the number of candidates has not then been narrowed down to two, ballots are expected to begin again on Monday next week.
Sir Graham said the new leader would be announced on 5 September but he would not say when the final vote would take place.