UK to get new PM on 5 September as Tory leader votes start Wednesday
The UK will get its 78th Prime Minister on 5 September, with the Conservative MPs to begin the process of electing a new party leader on Wednesday.
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, this evening announced MPs would have their first vote Wednesday and a second on Thursday.
A number of votes will be held before 21 July to allow Tory MPs to whittle down the field to the last two candidates, who will then face the party’s 200,000-person membership over a six-week campaign.
Candidates must be nominated by 20 MPs to get on the first ballot and must have the backing of 30 MPs in the first vote or face elimination.
Leadership candidates vied to outduel each other today on their tax cutting credentials, after Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak delivered policies post-Covid which put the UK on a trajectory to have its highest tax burden since the 1940s.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss unveiled a slick campaign video where she promised to “deliver, deliver and deliver”, while she also wrote in The Telegraph that she would cancel a recent increase in National Insurance and start slashing taxes on “day one”.
Former health secretary Sajid Javid decried the “sleaze, scandal and internal warfare” seen under Johnson’s stewardship of the Tory party during his launch speech and promised cuts to Income Tax, National Insurance and fuel duty.
New chancellor Nadhim Zahawi told a Westminster event that he would reverse the planned increase in Corporation Tax – from 19 per cent to 25 per cent for the UK’s largest firms – and cut the basic rate of Income tax from 20p to 19p in 2023 and 18p in 2024.
Zahawi said at the launch of the Conservative Way Forward, a pressure group led by senior Tory Steve Baker, that “finally after too many years of tax and spending skyrocketing, the political landscape is coming back to sensible policies championed by Margaret Thatcher”.
He also promised to scrap the upcoming Corporation Tax rise.
Bloomberg estimates the tax promises being made in the early stages of the campaign would cost tens of billions of pounds, with pundits speculating that candidates will have to outline public spending cuts.
Sunak is the only major candidate not pledging immediate tax cuts, with the former chancellor arguing they would leave a massive hole in the budget and would likely fuel further inflation.
He warned on Friday that the Tory party must not “tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment, but will leave our children worse off tomorrow”.
Rivals on the right of the party – including Truss and home secretary Priti Patel – are already lining up a “stop Rishi” campaign as the former chancellor increasingly looks like the race’s frontrunner.
It was revealed by The Times that a dossier on Sunak being distributed across WhatsApp to Tory backbenchers – which slammed him for tax increases, being “arrogant” and disloyal to Johnson – was being shared by an ally of Patel.
Close Truss ally and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also hit out at Sunak today, saying that his tax rises do not “make any sense whatsoever”.
A spokesperson for Sunak yesterday said “only Rishi can rise to the immense challenges we face, and seize the incredible opportunities before us”.
“He will tackle inflation, get our economy growing, and cut taxes,” they said.
Moderate MP Tom Tugendhat will hold his campaign launch tomorrow morning, with the Foreign Affairs Committee chair promising the UK a “clean start” under his leadership.
The former soldier has attracted strong early support from the Tory backbenches and has the third most MP endorsements so far.
A new poll of Conservative members from Conservative Home showed that trade minister Penny Mordaunt is currently in first place, followed by former local government minister Kemi Badenoch and Sunak.
Right-winger Suella Braverman and Truss were in fourth and fith place respectively, followed by Tugendhat in sixth place.
Johnson said today that he would not publicly reveal who he wants as the next leader of the Tory party, telling Sky News that “there’s a contest underway and that must happen and I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support”.