UK politics: meet eight contenders to succeed Boris Johnson

Eight politicians are vying to replace Boris Johnson as the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of Great Britain.

By 18:00 Moscow time on Tuesday evening, each of the applicants enlisted the support of at least 20 Conservative MPs to get into the second round of voting on Wednesday.

And there was already one high-profile casualty when Health Minister Sajid Javid apparently failed to garner enough support from fellow MPs and was forced to pull out of the race minutes before the deadline.

The last two candidates will be known by the end of next week, with Johnson’s successor named by September 5.

Here are the rest of the contenders:

Rishi Sunak, former head of the treasury

Sunak, 42, is the party’s best-known would-be leader and the bookmakers’ favorite to replace Johnson.

His public profile has risen since he became head of the UK Treasury in 2020, a job that has involved overseeing the billions of pounds given away during the coronavirus pandemic to help businesses and workers.

But he has faced criticism for not doing enough to alleviate the country’s growing cost-of-living crisis. His popularity also plummeted after he was fined by police for attending one of the quarantine-breaking government parties on Downing Street, home of the prime minister’s office and official residence.

Sunak says the promises of many rival candidates to cut taxes “are not credible” and that he will cut taxes only after inflation is under control.

Liz Truss, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Truss, 46, took up a senior cabinet post in September after serving as trade secretary. She is also the UK’s lead negotiator with the European Union on Brexit.

Truss, Britain’s top diplomat, has made no secret of her leadership ambitions and has sought to emulate former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in carefully curated social media photos. If elected, she says she wants to cut taxes “from day one” and cancel the income tax hike.

Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of Commerce

Mordaunt, 49, is popular with many conservatives and is another bookmaker favorite.

She was the first woman to serve as UK Secretary of Defense, although Johnson sacked her shortly after he became prime minister in 2019 because she supported another party leader candidate, Jeremy Hunt.

Mordaunt, a former reality TV contestant, played a prominent role in the 2016 Brexit campaign.

Jeremy Hunt, former government minister

Hunt, who served as health and foreign affairs secretary, ran against Johnson in the 2019 leadership race. He lost heavily and was expelled from the cabinet.

However, Hunt, 55, remained a member of Parliament and kept himself in the public eye, debating government policy on the pandemic as head of the Select Committee on Health and Social Assistance.

Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Relations Committee

Tugendhat, a 48-year-old MP and ex-military, has never held a cabinet post but chairs the powerful parliamentary foreign affairs committee. He is considered a centrist and presented his candidacy as an opportunity for a clean start.

He said he was consulting with a “broad coalition” of colleagues to overcome divisions within the government.

Kemi Badenoch, Former Minister for Equality

Badenoch, who has worked as a software engineer and at a private bank, grew up in Nigeria and says she has experienced poverty firsthand.

The 42-year-old MP was initially seen as an underdog in the race, but support from party heavyweight Michael Gove boosted her profile.

She wants to cut taxes and lead a “limited government focused on the essentials.”

Nadhim Zahavi, Head of the Treasury

Zahavi, 55, rose to prominence as vaccine minister during the pandemic. YouGov co-founder Zahavi was elected to parliament in 2010.

Born in Iraq to a Kurdish family, he came to the UK as a child when his parents fled Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Suella Braverman, Attorney General

Braverman is an MP and lawyer who became Attorney General of England in 2020.

A Euroskeptic and supporter of the UK’s exit from the European Union, Braverman, 42, says she wants to realize “all the big opportunities for Brexit”, including tougher immigration policies and exit from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.