Boris Johnson On Sunday he was struggling to win enough support to make a stunning comeback as Britain’s prime minister, as top Conservative politicians announced their support for former finance minister Rishi Sunak.
The two men became the frontrunners to replace Liz Truss, who was announced by Resignation Thursday is just six weeks into the chapter that has thrown Britain into political and economic turmoil.
Sunak announced on Sunday morning that he will compete. He wrote in a tweet: “The UK is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis. That’s why I stand to be your next Tory leader and Prime Minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our party and help our country.”
The former treasurer has already reached the threshold of 100 nominations to reach the voting stage, while Johnson’s allies have said the former prime minister has returned from a holiday in the Caribbean with the intention of joining the race, the Palestinian Authority News Agency reported, but he has not yet announced he is standing.
The run-off between the two men could be divisive for the ruling Conservative Party, not least because many Johnson supporters blame Sunak’s resignation in July for triggering the downfall of his government. Some media outlets have speculated that the two men could strike some kind of deal.
The BBC reported that a meeting had taken place between Johnson and Snack but “it was not revealed what they discussed”, while British news agency BS Media reported that the two were “said to have been closed for talks in the late evening” Saturday.
Meanwhile, Sky News referred to the meeting as a “secret summit”.
Sunak and Johnson, should he decide to run, would face House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, who on Sunday said she regretted the so-called “mini-budget” that led to Britain’s economic turmoil and Truss’ resignation.
“I am deeply sorry about the mini-budget… I raised concerns even before I was in government,” Mordant told the BBC in an interview on Sunday, adding that there were details about the budget that “the cabinet was not aware of”.
The last time the Conservatives held a leadership race – after the demise of the Johnson government – Truss came first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative official in charge of the process, said any candidate must receive at least 100 nominations from party MPs by 2 p.m. local time on Monday.
The threshold effectively narrows the field of potential candidates to a maximum of three, with the party comprising 357 deputies.
If one candidate meets this limit, he will automatically become a leader. Otherwise, the remaining candidates will be put to an online vote by members of the Conservative Party, which will close on Friday, October 28.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into her disastrous tenure that plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil. Her successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since it voted for Britain to leave the European Union in 2016.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, renewed his calls for a general election on Sunday, after claiming that people are “tired to their back teeth” of Conservative leadership and the consequences of their government’s decisions.
“There is a choice to be made. We need a general election! Let the public decide…Do they want to continue in this utter chaos, or do they want stability under a Labor government?” asked Starmer during a BBC interview.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel on Saturday became one of Johnson’s most prominent supporters in his bid to become prime minister. “Boris has the mandate to deliver our elected statement and a track record of getting the big decisions right,” she said on Twitter.
But his possible return to the top job has divided opinions within the Conservative Party, with many lawmakers horrified at the prospect of Johnson taking over as prime minister again.
Johnson’s former deputy prime minister and foreign minister Dominic Raab told the BBC, “We can’t go back” and noted that Johnson still faces an investigation into the so-called Partigate scandal at illegal gatherings in Downing Street.
The former prime minister is expected in the next few weeks to appear before the House of Commons Privileges Committee which is investigating whether he misled Parliament about parties, which could lead to his suspension or expulsion as a Member of Parliament.