British Conservatives hold first round of voting for new prime minister

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party on Wednesday began weeding out eight candidates running for prime minister, Boris Johnson, who hinted the race could be reduced to the last days, not weeks.

“I’ll leave with my head held high soon,” Johnson said at his penultimate Prime Minister’s Questions meeting in the House of Commons after a spectacular drop in cabinet support last week.

Praising his government’s economic performance, he added: “One of the consolations of leaving office at this particular time is that the number of vacancies is at an all-time high.”

Under the election schedule, Johnson’s successor as Conservative leader is due to be announced on Sept. 5 as the party seeks to rebuild its popular support after he was toppled by ongoing scandal.

But Johnson suggested that a new leader could be elected “by acclamation” before next week, if the last two candidates agree among themselves.

Leading contenders have already ruled it out, with Johnson’s spokesman telling reporters he was simply noting “uncertainty” about the race.

She added that the government is submitting a vote of confidence to itself in the House of Commons, with a debate scheduled for Monday, after rejecting a proposal from the Labor opposition to oust Johnson as soon as possible.

Labor leader Keir Starmer said Johnson was “completely deluded to the bitter end” but can take solace that he no longer has to follow the rules set for everyone else – a sharp reference to “Partygate” and other scandals.

In a sign of what’s to come, Starmer has also targeted Tory leadership contenders, including wealthy leader Rishi Sunak’s complicated tax affairs.

Unity statements

Johnson was forced to announce his resignation last week after a spate of ministerial resignations, including then Treasury Secretary Sunak.

It was a stunning fall for a politician who won a landslide election victory in December 2019 and pulled the UK out of the European Union a month later, before the Covid pandemic hit.

Conservative MPs voted for the eight candidates who survived Tuesday’s initial selection, with the result expected around 1600 GMT on Wednesday.

Those who do not get 30 votes will be excluded. A series of votes will be held next week until there are only two left in the race.

Then ordinary members of the party will vote.

While Johnson himself says he will stay above the fray, his remaining supporters are not holding back on Sunak’s bullshit and are rallying around right-wing Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Johnson praised “eight great candidates”, stating that any of them would have “wiped the floor” with Starmer’s Labor Party. “In a few weeks, they will unite around the winner and do just that,” he said.

Mordaunt and McCartney

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, who withdrew from the race to support Sunak, denied claims by Johnson’s allies that his candidate was a “socialist chancellor” for overseeing a massive support package during the pandemic.

Since then, Sunak has stressed the need to balance the books, as opposed to a series of free-for-all tax cuts promised by leadership rivals, which has raised concerns among the Bank of England and independent economists.

Sunak topped the list of Conservative MPs on Tuesday, ahead of former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Truss and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat.

Former junior minister Kemi Badenoch, new chancellor Nadhim Zahavi, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Attorney General Swella Braverman rounded out the top eight.

In her first campaign speech on Wednesday, Mordaunt drew on the patriotic themes that pervaded her launch video, which had to be removed following complaints from people who participated in it without permission.

A Royal Navy reservist said she was inspired by a life of service in 1982 when, at the age of nine, she saw a task force of warships leave her hometown of Portsmouth to recapture the Falklands from Argentina.

“I think our party has lost its self-respect,” Mordaunt said, comparing the Conservatives to Beatles legend Paul McCartney’s performance last month at the Glastonbury Music Festival.

“We enjoyed all these new tunes, but what we really wanted was the good old stuff that we all knew the words of: low taxes, small government, personal responsibility,” she said.