British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss appeared poised to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister on Friday as she closed the deadline for Conservative Party affiliates to vote for their new leader and next prime minister.
Truss, 47, is running against former finance minister Rishi Sunak, a 42-year-old former banker billionaire grandson of Indian immigrants.
The two candidates, chosen in July by the conservative deputies among a dozen candidates, made an effort in August to seduce the nearly 200,000 members of the formation, who had the last word with a vote by mail and online that closed on Friday. in the afternoon.
The result will be announced on Monday. The head of diplomacy is clearly the favorite with more than 30 points of advantage in the polls.
“If I am elected prime minister I will not let anyone bring us down and I will do everything in my power to ensure the success of our great nation,” she said on Friday, assuring that “it was fantastic to meet and speak with thousands of affiliates across the UK over the last six weeks.
Sunak defended his experience as head of Finance during the pandemic as a guarantee that he can get the country out of the crisis: “I know what it takes to overcome difficult times. I did it as Finance Minister and I will do it again as Prime Minister.”
– Visit the queen on Tuesday –
The winner will travel on Tuesday to the Scottish castle of Balmoral, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II, for his first meeting with the head of state who, at 96 years old and with increasing mobility problems, will not travel to London for the occasion , for the first time since he came to the throne 70 years ago.
Before, the monarch will also receive Johnson at Balmoral, 800 km north of London, who will present his formal resignation as prime minister after being forced to resign in July as leader of the Conservative Party under a multiplication of scandals.
In the opinion of John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde, Truss’s success with the party’s grassroots is due to his greater ease in conveying traditional conservative messages.
“Sunak has shown some of the qualities one would expect in a good minister. But Truss has shown the qualities that are needed in a politician,” Curtice told AFP.
The winner will immediately take the reins of the government to deal with the economic crisis that the country is experiencing, threatened with an autumn of protests and strikes in a context of uncontrolled inflation that has already reached 10% and is on track to exceed 13% by the end of the year. of year.
– Split in the match –
If elected, Truss promised to “focus on energy prices for consumers and how to get the UK economy back on track.”
Throughout the campaign he has promised to cut taxes to boost growth, but has yet to say how he will help Britons cope with rising energy bills this winter, when the tariff cap will rise by 80% from October. leaving millions of people unable to pay for their heat.
For his part, Sunak set controlling inflation as a priority, criticizing as illusory the tax cut plans of Truss, who is on the far right wing of a party whose divisions have deepened with the power struggle between the two candidates.
Thus, whoever wins the referendum may have difficulty uniting the Conservatives before the next general election, scheduled for January 2025 at the latest, but which could be brought forward.
In a context of deterioration of the economy and the living conditions of the British, the polls give the opposition Labor Party more than 10 points ahead of a Conservative Party that has been in power for 12 years.