To reduce an ever-growing field of candidates to a shortlist of two by next Wednesday, Conservative MPs will lay out a strict timeline for the party’s leadership election on Monday.
Following the announcement of their candidacies, foreign secretary Liz Truss and obscure Foreign Office minister Rehman Chishti have been joined by eleven other individuals.
While other candidates are lining up to attack the former chancellor for raising taxes while in charge of the Treasury, Rishi Sunak has more than 30 Tory MPs on his side and is the bookies’ favorite.
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, on Monday criticized the “fantasy economics” that he claims has characterized the Tory primary thus far, with candidates competing to promise the most expansive tax cuts.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was named chancellor last week, has also made claims that he was the target of “smears” regarding his financial affairs.
A newly elected executive of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, which oversees the selection of Conservative leaders, will meet on Monday to finalize the rules and timetable in an effort to end what could quickly turn into a divisive and bitter contest.
According to a senior MP close to the committee, it is “likely” that lawmakers will demand that candidates receive the support of at least 10% of the parliamentary party, or 36 MPs, in order to be included on the ballot.
The threshold, according to another senior MP, might be 20 MPs. Even at that standard, less well-known candidates with fewer supporters are likely to be eliminated right away.
By the end of this week, it would be hoped to reduce the field of candidates to three or four using a series of “knockout” votes. The MPs would then select a final shortlist of two before the House of Commons breaks for the summer on July 21.
Up until the Conservative party members choose a new leader from the shortlist, Boris Johnson will continue to serve as caretaker prime minister. Before MPs return to Westminster on September 5, it is desired to have the process finished.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who opposed Sunak’s plan to raise National Insurance rates in order to pay for improvements to the NHS and social care, has endorsed Truss as campaigning gets underway.
Robert Jenrick, a former Treasury minister, has backed Sunak and defended the former chancellor for maintaining his permanent residency in the US while serving as an MP.
Speaking to the BBC, he said, “I actually think it’s quite refreshing that we might have a prime minister who’s lived and worked around the world [and] is extremely knowledgeable about finance and technology.”
Zahawi stated to Sky News that claims that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, and HM Revenue & Customs were looking into his financial affairs were “clearly being smeared” against him.
He replied, “I’m not aware of this. “I’ve always declared my taxes and paid them in the UK,” the speaker said.