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HomeWorldRace to replace UK P/Minister Johnson hots up among top contenders

Race to replace UK P/Minister Johnson hots up among top contenders

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The ousting of British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has unleashed the ‘hounds of hell’ and has sparked a bitter leadership race that will see Tories ‘shredding each other to pieces’, Nadine Dorries has warned as hopefuls gear up to replace him.

The culture secretary – one of the Prime Minister’s most stringent supporters – warned colleagues that they have to “keep the cabinet sailing steadily and keep the government running smoothly,” The Times reports.

Her plea for stability came amid fears that the race to replace Johnson will turn into a ‘Grand National’ or become akin to eleven businesses competing for the same contract.

“People will shred each other to pieces in the media. It’s going to be a bloodbath,” she said.

One leadership hopeful, Liz Truss, will pitch herself as the female Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race – a candidate who can win seats both in the South and the Red Wall, supporters said last night.

The Foreign Secretary is among more than a dozen MPs preparing to launch bids to be the next Prime Minister within days.

Others in the running include Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Ben Wallace, Nadhim Zahawi, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat.

While the events of this week appear to have cemented the Prime Minister’s demise, the race to replace him has effectively been going on for months.

‘Blue on blue’ attacks have already begun, with Rishi Sunak being blasted by one rival who said it is “not obvious that he’s got an economic plan or is a tax cutter from his record.”

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And one Conservative MP said that if Suella Braverman and Steve Baker were allowed to stand “we’re just going to look like the wacky races,” adding: “As for Sajid [Javid], his resignation speech told you everything you needed to know: we all started wishing him well but within minutes he completely lost the room.”

The MP also blasted Liz Truss as “bad, mad and frankly dangerous to know.”

It comes as:

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ‘saddened’ by the departure of Johnson, who he hailed as a ‘hero’;
  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss cut short a trip to Indonesia to fly back to the UK, where she is expected to launch a leadership bid pitching herself as a low-tax Tory who can hold Johnson’s electoral coalition together;
  • Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi faced a backlash from some Tory MPs after revealing he had privately told the PM to quit just 12 hours after publicly calling for him to stay;
  • In the first of what could be many blue-on-blue attacks this summer, Jacob Rees-Mogg savaged Rishi Sunak, saying he was ‘not a successful chancellor, he was a high-tax chancellor’;
  • Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was consulting his family about a leadership challenge after polls named him as the favourite among Tory activists;
  • Former Army officer Tom Tugendhat will run and was emerging as the leading candidate of the Tory Remainers;
  • A poll found that Sunak was best placed to beat Labour, as he prepared to launch his own party leadership bid;
  • Labour threatened to hold a formal vote of no confidence next week which could trigger a quick general election;
  • A smirking Sir Keir was spotted at Wimbledon as Labour officials celebrated the Tories’ self-destructive removal of the man who repeatedly beat them at the polls;
  • Vladimir Putin celebrated the departure of an implacable opponent, with the Kremlin saying Mr Johnson had been ‘hit by a boomerang launched by himself’;
  • Attorney general Suella Braverman stayed in her Cabinet job despite calling on the PM to quit and announcing her leadership bid before he resigned;
  • John Major launched a bitter attack on the PM, calling on Tory MPs to kick him out of Downing Street immediately;
  • Senior Tories were finalising the rules for a formal Tory leadership contest, which is expected to start next week and produce a new leader by the start of September.

Wednesday’s cabinet meeting is said to have concluded with ministers banging tables in tribute to Johnson.

Tories have been speculating that whoever eventually comes out on top would have to cope with Johnson causing trouble for them.

One said: “He is a hugely charismatic person. He is a rock star and a big figure on the world stage. He is not going to fade away in the background.”

One of Johnson’s allies who was with him on Wednesday night said: “I’m angry with him, he could have done everything with an 80-seat majority but he’s blown it.”

Truss will land in Britain this afternoon after she cut short a trip to a G20 foreign ministers summit in Indonesia Wednesday.

The minister, who is finalising plans for her campaign, will argue she can keep together the coalition of voters who backed Johnson at the 2019 general election when he won a thumping majority.

A close ally said last night: “She is popular in both the Red Wall and the Lib Dem-facing marginals we need to keep hold of.”

In a swipe at former Chancellor Rishi Sunak who raised national insurance, Truss will declare that she is a ‘low-tax’ Tory who will “get the economy moving again.” The ally added: “She is vastly experienced and knows how to drive difficult policy through Whitehall… She is tough and delivers and gets things done.”

Defence Secretary Wallace is also planning to run for the top job after discussing a leadership bid with his family.

The former Army officer, 52, is expected to confirm his intentions in the coming days. He has emerged as a front-runner after a survey of Conservative Party members.

The father-of-three, who is separated from his wife, topped a YouGov poll with 13 per cent support, just ahead of Miss Mordaunt on 12 per cent, Mr Sunak on 10 per cent and Miss Truss on 8 per cent.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was beaten by Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, trailed in on 5 per cent – the same as new Chancellor Zahawi. Bookies installed Wallace as favourite following the poll.

The MP for Wyre and Preston North has gained plaudits across the political spectrum for his handling of the war in Ukraine. Mordaunt, who was the first female Defence Secretary before being fired by Mr Johnson, already has a campaign team in place.

The resignations of Sunak and Javid from Cabinet on Tuesday triggered the mass exodus which ultimately crippled Johnson’s leadership.

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