On Friday, when voting officially ends for Conservative Party members to select between former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss, the contest to succeed Boris Johnson as the party’s leader and the country’s prime minister enters its final countdown stage.
Over the last month, Sunak, 42, and Truss, 47, have faced off in a dozen hustings throughout the UK in an effort to win over the support of an estimated 160,000 Tory voters.
The foreign minister has promised to reduce taxes as soon as he becomes government, in contrast to the former British Indian minister who has made taming the rising inflation an urgent focus of his campaign. Overall, the discussions have focused on how they intend to handle the cost-of-living problem that the British population is now experiencing, even as the pair gave their last hustings speech on Wednesday night in London when they reaffirmed many of their commitments.
The Indian-origin finance minister has been on the back foot in the pre-poll surveys of Tory members who have a vote in this election, despite being the obvious frontrunner in the leadership race in the first round of voting when Tory MPs voted to select the two finalists in the contest.
Since Truss was not one of the ministers who quit in the days prior to Johnson’s forced resignation from 10 Downing Street, fierce devotion to the former Prime Minister Johnson is being highlighted as a significant driving factor in the selection of a majority for Truss.
Another important element making Truss the front-runner to succeed Johnson is the appeal of her tax-cutting pledges to the Conservative Party, which is adamantly pro-low taxes.
Sunak’s supporters, however, will be hoping for a repeat of the Brexit referendum result from June 2016, when Britain opted to leave the European Union (EU), defying the majority of polls conducted before to the referendum.
Johnson was elected with a massive majority in the 2019 general election, which went against the expectations of several pundits who were forecasting a less clear-cut outcome and an anti-incumbency factor working against the Tories.
The winner of the votes cast online and by mail since voting began in early August will be declared on Monday, and the new leader will then go to Scotland for a meeting with the Queen at her Balmoral Castle summer residence.
Then, on Wednesday, one of Sunak or Truss will respond to their first round of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.