Becky Nixon | August 15, 2022
Boris Johnson announced that he will resign as UK Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader when a replacement is chosen. This triggered a leadership contest which resulted in Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak being the two potential candidates to become the next PM. Conservative Party members will vote for who they prefer and the winner, the next PM, will be announced on September 5.
Becky Nixon| August 15, 2022
It feels like the UK is experiencing an interim period after Boris Johnson announced his resignation, triggering a Conservative Party leadership race. The Partygate scandal placed colossal pressure on the soon-to-be ex-PM and this combined with the cost of living crisis resulted in Johnson announcing his resignation. The leadership race is in full swing, with the winner, who will become the new leader of the Conservative Party and the new Prime Minister of the UK, being announced on 5 September.
The 1922 Committee has set the rules and timeline for the leadership contest. Candidates needed the backing of 20 MPs to enter the race and MPs required 30 MP votes to pass through the first round. Since then, a few run-off votes have left us with two candidates who will campaign over the Summer. These candidates are Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Conservative Party members will vote for the winner and the UK’s new PM will be announced on September 5.
One of the two final candidates, Liz Truss has held various positions in Conservative governments including Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs but she is currently the Foreign Secretary - one of the most senior positions in the UK government. Truss campaigned for remaining in the European Union, however, she argued that Brexit would be an opportunity to “shake up the way things work” in the UK.
The other candidate, Rishi Sunak became an MP in 2015 and became chancellor in February 2020. He campaigned for Leave during the Brexit referendum, saying it would make Britain “freer, fairer and more prosperous”. Sunak was fined for breaking lockdown rules and has faced scrutiny over his wife’s taxes, both incidents placing political pressure on him. Rishi Sunak resigned from his position as chancellor on July 5 at the same time as Sajid Javid to pressure Boris Johnson to resign.
Boris Johnson was found to have broken his own lockdown restrictions after it was revealed that several gatherings that breached restrictions took place in Government buildings and these revelations resulted in calls for Johnson to quit. Additional incidents, for example, the Neil Parish scandal made it inevitable that the PM was doing more harm than good for the Conservative Party and over 50 MPs resigning from his Government in quick succession solidified this. Boris Johnson announced he would leave his role when a successor was chosen on July 7.
While there are no official numbers, we know that there are over 160,000 members of the Conservative Party, which makes up roughly 0.3% of UK voters. To add to this, the BBC reports that 63% of members are male, 39% are over 65, 56% live in London and the south-east of England and 80% belong to the highest social economic groups known as ABC1. This group of voters, which clearly doesn’t represent the UK as a whole, are in charge of deciding who will be the next Prime Minister. Is it fair that 0.3% of voters will choose who will represent the UK on a global stage and make important domestic decisions? The current cost-of-living crisis has left struggling families having to go hungry due to the high price of food and the government has arguably not taken enough effective and immediate action. These starving families can’t have a say in who leads the country, and who can change their situation for the better. This is simply not fair.
On the 5th of September, the UK will have a new Prime Minister who has been chosen by 0.3% of the electorate, the majority of that percentage being male, rich and living in the South and England. This new Prime Minister will not have been chosen by the people, they will have been chosen by the privileged few.