Boris Johnson’s successor as leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister of the United Kingdom will be announced on Monday after eight weeks of campaigning.
The next prime minister will either be Liz Truss, who is serving as the current Foreign Secretary, or Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer whose resignation helped bring about Johnson’s downfall in July.
Members of the Conservative Party have now cast their votes on who they would like to see as his successor, with Truss, a supporter of Johnson’s who said she did not support his resignation, the overwhelming favorite to become Britain’s third female prime minister.
The leadership campaign has been dominated by questions about what both candidates will do to tackle a looming economic crisis, with household energy bills set to skyrocket this winter and inflation, already at a four-decade high at 10.1%, is expected to rise further according to the Bank of England. The leadership hopefuls have clashed most fiercely on the issue of tax, with Truss saying she would not raise taxes, while Sunak has supported a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits to help ease the burden on households.
Truss has promised action on the energy crisis within a week of taking office, though she has not spelled out her plans in any detail and refused to elaborate when questioned by the BBC on Sunday.
Whoever wins will also have the task of uniting a divided Conservative Party. Johnson’s tenure in office was dogged by scandal – most notably with the issue of ‘Partygate’ – the illegal gatherings held in government residences while the country was under lockdown. While his supporters will remember him for securing a huge election victory, Brexit and support for Ukraine, his detractors say Johnson’s conduct and flexible relationship with the truth damaged the Conservative Party brand.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, said that the appointment of a fourth Conservative prime minister since 2010 did not mark a “new dawn” for Britain.
“As summer turns to autumn, the shadows of crisis are lengthening, looming over the whole country,” he wrote. “There is no sign that either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss have grasped the scale of what is facing us, let alone possesses the answers to it.”
While the winner of the leadership contest will be announced on Monday, the new prime minister will not be formally installed until Tuesday after Johnson formally submits his resignation to the Queen at Balmoral and his successor is then invited to form a government.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” Johnson said on the steps of Downing Street when he announced his resignation. “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world… But them’s the breaks.”