September 22, 2022

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UK foreign minister Liz Truss on Sunday joined the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister and leader of the ruling Conservative party, as the fractious contest focused on tax.

Truss, 46, announced her candidacy in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Sunday evening, saying she had “a clear vision of where we need to be, and the experience and resolve to get us there”.

Mordaunt, 49, an ex-navy reservist who has also held several senior ministerial roles, is not among the favourites to succeed Johnson in recent polls of Tory party members ultimately set to choose their new leader.

The early favourite is former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who launched his campaign Friday after helping to kickstart the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation Thursday. He is now drawing early fire from Johnson loyalists and rival candidates.

That forced Johnson to then quit as Tory leader 36 hours later.

– Crowded field –

Current finance minister Nadhim Zahawi — only appointed to the post Tuesday — and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have also launched bids.

Another Tory lawmaker, Rehman Chishti, announced his leadership bid on Sunday evening to take the number of contenders to 11. 

Taxation is already a key dividing line in the race, as Britain faces the toxic combination of high inflation and rampant cost-of-living increases alongside stagnant growth and relatively high tax rates.

Announcing their bids separately in the Sunday Telegraph, Javid and Hunt both vowed to cut corporation tax from 25 to 15 percent.

Hunt, Shapps and Tugendhat set out their stances for lower taxes in Sunday morning television appearances, while Truss also put cutting taxes at the heart of her pitch.

Meanwhile, Zahawi’s campaign appeared in early danger following Sunday newspaper reports that his personal tax affairs are under investigation by revenue and customs officials — who are part of his treasury department. He has denied wrongdoing.

The likely months-long acrimonious campaign is set to be formalised Monday when a committee of backbenchers will meet to agree the timetable and rules.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the committee’s treasurer, told LBC radio he was “absolutely confident” the contest could be whittled down to two candidates to put to members within weeks, before parliament’s summer recess starting after July 21.

The new leader then chosen by members could be in place ahead of the Conservatives’ annual conference in early October.

In a sign of the potential peril of a protracted fight, the Sunday Times reported some of the leadership teams had compiled so-called dirty dossiers of compromising allegations against rival candidates and their aides.

Originally published as Foreign minister Truss joins 11-strong UK leader race

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