Then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (C) and Health Secretary Said Javid walk with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend a press conference on Downing Street in London, Britain, on September 7, 2021. File Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
July 18 (BP) — There are only five candidates left to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and British prime minister — and after Monday, there will be only four.
Conservative British lawmakers were set to vote Monday night on the five remaining candidates — Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat, and trade minister Penny Mordaunt.
The last-place finisher will be eliminated from the race and the other four will move on to the next round of voting, which will come Tuesday or Wednesday.
On Monday, Sky News canceled a debate scheduled for Tuesday because two of the candidates — Sunak and Truss — refused to participate. The cancellation came after Sunday’s debate featured a tense back-and-forth with three other hopefuls on the ballot.
The debate featured several heated exchanges on a range of topics, such as raising taxes, economic growth and gender identity.
Some members of the party are said to be concerned about the damage the debates are doing to the Conservative image, exposing disagreements and splits within the party.
Sunak and Truss are believed to be the front-runners in the race. On Monday, they faced criticism from the opposition Labor Party for dropping out of the debate.
“I’m astonished that those that want to be prime minister of the United Kingdom are pulling out of debates and out of scrutiny,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said according to Sky News.
Both Sunak and Truss, however, expressed willingness to debate again should they advance to the next stage of the vote.
“We are very happy to do more debates if we are lucky enough to get to the next stage,” Sunak said according to the Evening Standard.
Johnson, Britain’s prime minister since 2019, announced his resignation July 7 after losing the confidence of multiple government officials, some of whom resigned in protest over several scandals — including “partygate” and appointing a politician accused of sexual misconduct.