Nominations open for new UK PM to replace Liz Truss, cut-off set at 100 MPs
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned on Thursday

London: The nominations for Conservative Party members planning to contest in the leadership election to replace Liz Truss as Tory leader and British Prime Minister officially opened on Thursday evening, with a high threshold of 100 members of Parliament set for the final shortlist.

Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Backbench Committee in charge of Tory elections, said that potential candidates are expected to file their nominations by 2 pm local time on Monday for a final two contestants to be shortlisted.

Unless there is parliamentary consensus struck around a single candidate, the final two will be put up for an expedited online voting process before the wider Tory party membership to be concluded by October 28.

“It (100 MPs) should be achievable by any serious candidate, who has a realistic prospect of going through,” said Brady, as he confirmed the likelihood of three possible candidates emerging, given the 357 Tory MPs in the House of Commons.

“It is up to the Members of Parliament whether we have one or two candidates. If there are two candidates acting in the national interest, our members can make their views known,” said Tory Party chairman Jake Berry, who will oversee the online voting for the membership.

In case only one candidate emerges with the requisite support in time for the 2 pm deadline on Monday, the party would have a new leader in place later that day. If there is a clash between two final contenders, the leader would be in place by next Friday.

Rishi Sunak, the British Indian former chancellor, had garnered the support of 137 MPs in the last round of voting within the Tory parliamentary party back in July and was the clear frontrunner of the race among his colleagues.

However, second-placed Liz Truss at 113 votes zoomed ahead as the favourite when the poll opened out to the estimated 170,000 Tory members, who voted in online and postal ballots between July and early September.

Many Sunak loyalists within the party hope he would emerge as the favourite to replace Truss after she resigned earlier on Thursday at the end of a disastrous 44-day tenure at 10 Downing Street the shortest of any British Prime Minister in history.

However, the governing party remains deeply divided as former prime minister Boris Johnson supporters still consider Sunak as having betrayed his partygate scandal-hit former boss by resigning from his Cabinet and hastening his exit from Downing Street in early July.

If Sunak does throw his hat in the ring and wins over the support of enough of his party colleagues, it would mark one of the most remarkable comebacks in British politics for the UK-born Indian-origin politician.

The 42-year-old former finance minister, the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, has attracted much praise in recent weeks as many of his forewarnings about Truss’ fairytale tax-cutting economic agenda came true.

“I’m going to stay as a member of Parliament. It’s been a great privilege to represent my constituents in Richmond in North Yorkshire as their member of Parliament and I’ll love to keep doing that as long as they’ll have me,” he had said at the end of the Tory leadership race last month, which he lost with a much closer margin than was forecast with Sunak polling 43 per cent of his party’s votes compared to Truss’ 57 per cent.

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