LONDON – It was the most striking moment for the British Conservative Party to date Competition for a new leader. The five remaining candidates were asked during a televised debate to raise their hands if they would let Boris Johnson serve in their cabinet. Not a single hand went up.
The candidates set to replace Johnson are scrambling to distance themselves from the scandal-ridden politician who did so resigned as party leader remains British Prime Minister for a few more weeks – despite the fact that most of them have served in his government for the past three years.
Johnson has since largely disappeared from the scene. He has not attended an emergency government meeting over a heatwave expected to bring temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) to the UK.
On Friday, Johnson visited a Royal Air Force base and rode in a Typhoon fighter jet, with his office later releasing “Top Gun”-style footage. He spent the weekend at Checkers, the country house that comes with the Prime Minister’s job, and hosted a farewell barbecue for staff and friends.
On Monday, Johnson attended the Farnborough Air Show and will return to Parliament for one of the last times as Prime Minister to praise his own achievements ahead of a largely symbolic vote of confidence called by the government itself.
Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, compared Johnson to “a grumpy teenager in the bedroom who just does what he wants and occasionally yells at his parents”.
Political and media attention is focused on his potential successor, who are throwing mud at each other as they try to persuade Conservative Party members to restore confidence in politics and the opposition Labor Party at the next election can defeat 2024.
Frontrunner Rishi Sunak, who served as chief financial officer under Johnson until his resignation earlier this month, is under attack from rivals for spending billions to keep workers and businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and raising taxes to do so to pay.
In a televised debate on Sunday, Secretary of State Liz Truss accused Sunak of raising taxes to the highest level in 70 years. He argued the hikes were necessary to dampen rising inflation and accused Truss, who had promised immediate tax cuts, of peddling “something for free”.
Penny Mordaunt, a Trade Secretary who has emerged as a strong competitive challenger, has called in vain for an end to the “mud fights” many of which have been directed against her. She has been accused by opponents of wanting to make it easier for people to change gender – a hot topic for some Conservatives – and neglecting her government duties to prepare her bid for the leadership.
The Conservative lawmakers will later on Monday hold the latest in a series of exclusion votes to reduce the number of candidates – already down from 11 initially – from five to four. It is widely expected that Sunak, Mordaunt and Truss will remain in contention while backbencher Tom Tugendhat or former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch face elimination.
Further rounds of voting are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday to determine two finalists. The final pair will be put to a vote by about 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country. The winner is due to be announced on September 5 and will automatically become prime minister without the need for a national election.
Fielding said that could prove problematic for the new leader, who will be elected by a conservative constituency — “mostly white, Southerner, very wealthy” — with political priorities very different from those of the general electorate as a whole.
Johnson won the Conservatives an overwhelming parliamentary majority in 2019 but has since been plagued by scandals, including allegations of misleading parliament about parties in government posts that breached COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Johnson clung to power despite being fined by police for “Partygate,” but eventually resigned on July 7 after one scandal too many – the appointment of a politician who had been accused of sexual misconduct – the ministers to resign en masse.
Cabinet Secretary Kit Malthouse, a longtime Johnson ally, argued the party’s testy debate was healthy and predicted the Conservatives would reunite in a “spirit of harmony and love” after the leadership campaign.
But Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said that was overly optimistic.
“Unfortunately, the manner in which Johnson left the country injected quite a bit of poison into the (party’s) bloodstream,” he said. “It will take time to work its way out.”
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/07/18/wheres-boris-johnson-takes-back-seat-as-conservatives-feud/ where is boris Johnson takes a backseat as a Conservative feud