Tory leadership race: Johnson refuses to ‘damage anybody’s chances’ by making endorsement
Boris Johnson has said he does not want to “damage anybody’s chances” of winning the Tory leadership race by making an endorsement.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to “let the party decide, let them get on with it”, after a flood of Tory MPs over the weekend announced their campaigns to become the next leader of the Conservative party and UK Prime Minister.
The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers will today announce the timetable for the contest, with a new leader of the party expected to be announced in early September.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak has the most declared support from current Tory MPs, followed by trade minister Penny Mordaunt, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat, foreign secretary Liz Truss and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.
Johnson said today during a visit to a London biomedical research centre that he would be staying well out of the coming leadership race and would remain neutral.
“There’s a contest underway and that must happen and I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support. I just want to get on, I have to get on, in the last few days and weeks with the job,” he said.
The early stages of the leadership contest have largely been focussed on candidates trying to outduel one another on tax cuts and on separating themselves from Johnson.
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt today said he wanted to cut “all taxes” if made Prime Minister, while Truss and ex-health secretary Sajid Javid have also gone big on promising cuts to Corporation Tax.
Zahawi, Mordaunt, Tugendhat and attorney general have also vowed to cut taxes if made leader.
Standing against them is Sunak, who has said that now is not the time to cut taxes as it would leave a massive hole in the budget and would likely fuel further inflation.
He said during his leadership announcement video that the party has two choices.
He said: “Do we confront this moment with honesty, seriousness and determination? Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment, but will leave our children worse off tomorrow? Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.”
The 1922 Committee is expected to announce today that the leadership contest will begin this week.
There will be a series of votes among Tory MPs until the parliamentary party whittles the field down to the last two contenders.
The last two contenders will then campaign over five or six weeks to win the votes of the 200,000 Tory members who will effectively choose the next Prime Minister.
A spokesperson for Truss today said that “Liz is the only candidate” that can united “the Red and Blue Wall, has a clear vision for the country and economy based on Conservative principles, and has the experience and track record to deliver that vision and hit the ground running on day one”.