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Conservatives in the UK Parliament have narrowed down a “historically diverse” field of candidates in the party leader race to two: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. Whomever Conservative party members choose in September will be the country’s next Prime Minister.
If elected, Foreign Minister Liz Truss would be the nation’s third female leader. Sunak, the country’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), would become the first person of color ever to serve as Prime Minister.
The vote comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces he will step down this fall. Johnson, who lead the country’s exit from the EU, lost public trust after a series of scandals rocked his administration.
Sunak and Truss say they plan to restore the British peoples’ trust in their Government as Prime Minister and steer the country through the ongoing economic crisis.
Sunak, Truss seek to distinguish themselves ahead of September vote
In a recent debate, the two differed most on tax policy. Sunak, as Chancellor, proposed payroll and corporate tax increases, while Truss opposed new taxes. Truss argued increasing taxes in an economic downturn will harm business development. Sunak, however, scoffed at Truss’s plan to more slowly reduce government debt, calling it “a fairytale”.
As much of the world is gripped by a disastrous heatwave, candidates were asked about their stance on climate change. Truss and Sunak both stated they plan to make good on Britain’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Between the two, however, Sunak offered the more forceful commitment. The Richmond MP says he sees combating climate change as a responsibility the country has to future generations.
Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss survived three rounds of voting from Tory (Conservative Party) MPs to make it to the final runoff. The two will campaign over the next month for the votes of nearly 200,000 dues paying members of the party. Because the race is simply to choose a new party leader, the general British public will not be able to vote.
In addition to alignment with the party’s platform, Tories are looking for a leader who can help Conservatives keep a majority in the general election two years from now. Polls show the party, which has been in power since 2010, already trailing significantly behind the Labour (liberal) party.
Party officials say they expect the final results of the vote by early September.