The increasingly fierce race to replace British Prime Minister Johnson narrows to four

  • Sunak stays ahead in third round of voting
  • Tom Tugendhat eliminated from race to replace Johnson
  • Fear the race will leave the party divided

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) – Britain’s former finance minister Rishi Sunak maintained his lead in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister on Monday as another hopeful was eliminated, leaving four candidates one more race fiercer to replace Boris Johnson.

Sunak won 115 votes in the Conservative lawmakers’ third round of voting on Monday, ahead of former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt with 82 votes and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with 71 votes.

Since Johnson announced he would step down earlier this month after his scandal-ridden administration lost the support of many members of his ruling Conservative Party, the race to replace him has taken an ugly turn, with several contenders going after favorite Sunak.

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He has been criticized on everything from his record in government to his wife’s wealth by those vying to qualify for a runoff between the last two candidates, with Foreign Secretary Truss and Mordaunt, currently a junior minister for Commerce, its most likely adversaries.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier and Johnson critic who has never played a role in government, was knocked out of the leadership race on Monday after receiving the fewest votes with 31.

Former equality minister Kemi Badenoch came fourth in the poll with 58 votes.

The ruling Conservative Party’s 358 lawmakers will narrow the field to the bottom two this week, each time eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes. The results of the next ballot are expected on Tuesday at 14:00 GMT.

A new Prime Minister will then be announced on September 5, after the 200,000 members of the Conservative Party vote by mail over the summer.

VIGOROUS DEBATE

The race centered on promises or non-commitments to cut taxes, at a time when Britain’s economy is plagued by runaway inflation, high debt and weak growth that have left people with the tightest strain on their finances in decades.

Truss has also come under fire for saying she would change the Bank of England’s mandate. Read more

In a televised debate on Sunday, the candidates slammed their records, and Truss and Sunak pulled out of a third debate scheduled for Tuesday, amid concerns the Tories had candidates attacking their party colleagues. Read more

“The nature of the Conservative Party is to have vigorous debate and then merge once a new leader is chosen. I have no doubt it will be the same on this occasion,” the former told Reuters. Conservative Minister David Jones.

Sunak extended her lead over Mordaunt, who lost support and recorded one less vote than she had in the second round.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes said on Monday that Truss, who had won seven more votes in the third round than in the second round, was now the second favorite, ahead of Mordaunt but behind Sunak.

Truss’s campaign tried to bolster their argument for lower taxes by citing a report by the Center for Economic and Business Research, a private sector think tank, showing there was more room to manoeuvre. through higher tax revenues.

But a senior Bank of England official, Michael Saunders, pushed back on his suggestion that the government should set a “clear direction” for monetary policy, saying it was best to leave the fundamentals of the UK framework untouched. Read more

“The government is not very clear on the direction of monetary policy,” Saunders, one of nine members of the monetary policy committee responsible for setting interest rates, said at a Resolution event. Foundation in London.

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Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan, Alistair Smout, David Milliken and Andy Bruce, Editing by Hugh Lawson, William James and Toby Chopra

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Edward L. Robinett