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UK Crisis: Rishi Sunak Obtains Endorsement Of 114 MPs, But He Still Has A Long Way To Go

Meanwhile, the British economy is sliding and thanks to political uncertainty and rating agency Moody’s has downgraded it to negative. The emphasis now is to quickly get a new PM in place by Friday and get to work to restore the economy.

Rishi Sunak
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As of now former chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has not thrown his hat in the ring to replace Liz Truss as Britain’s prime minister. Yet by Saturday he has been endorsed by 114  Conservative members of Parliament. The leadership race to lead the Conservative party and eventually take over as Prime Minister was the result of Liz Truss’s dramatic exit on Thursday. Meanwhile, the British economy is sliding thanks to political uncertainty and rating agency Moody’s has downgraded it to negative. The emphasis now is to quickly get a new PM in place by Friday and get to work to restore the economy.

Nominations for the contest opened late Thursday and will close by 14 hours on Monday the 24 of September. The new rules announced by the party have placed the threshold for candidates to contest the elections at 100 members. With speculations that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also considering joining the race, the numbers could change by the weekend. Johnson returned home to London from his Caribbean holidays today but has been in consultations with his well-wishers who want him to take another shot at power. Now that he is back a decision will have to be taken swiftly. There are unconfirmed reports that Johnson has the support of 100 MPs. But those who have openly sided with him are 59, but this could change.

Johnson still has his loyalists within the party. 59 MPs have already endorsed the former PM. Defence secretary Ben Wallace, a staunch Johnson loyalist has said that he had won the mandate decisively in 2019 and has the support of the British public. However, not everyone agrees, considering he was ousted by members of his own party for his behaviour during the covid lockdown. Johnson has kept his cards close to his chest, but local reporters have quoted trade minister  James Duddridge  as saying that the former prime minister told him that he was "up for it."

Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, the first to announce her bid to the highest office, has so far got the endorsement of just about 21 members. But this could grow in the next few days. She is a staunch Brexiter and popular with the right wing within the Conservatives. She is standing on a platform of uniting the Conservatives and will try to reach out to the moderates within the party.

There will be much wheeling and dealing in the weekend as Monday’s deadline for the nominations approaches. Like Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson has not yet made any announcement that he will contest. Johnson continues to be a divisive figure within the Parliamentary party, and many MPs want him to stay out of the race.

Rishi Sunak is likely to officially announce his decision to contest soon. Former health minister Sajid Javed is one of the over 100 MPs supporting Sunak. In the last contest, Sunak handsomely in the parliamentary party votes. He was eliminated when general members of the Conservative party preferred Liz Truss. Sunak could face a similar problem if the vote goes to party members. If there is an agreement hammered out by the party to ensure a consensus candidate emerges then members of the Conservative party will not vote. But this is unlikely in a party deeply divided.   

The opposition Labour MPs want a general election to be called. However, some sections would rather wait for the Tories to make more mistakes and have elections by next summer. The Conservative party has a large majority in Parliament and is not bound to call for the general election for another two years. This mandate was for Boris Johnson who had won the last elections with a thumping majority.

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