Race to succeed Johnson: Truss and Sunak fight last duel

Truss and Sunak meet one last time at London's Wembley Arena.

Race to succeed Johnson: Truss and Sunak fight last duel

Truss and Sunak meet one last time at London's Wembley Arena. Tory members have until Friday to choose Prime Minister Johnson's successor. Many Britons long for the end of the permanent election campaign. There was talk of a "lesson in torture".

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak have engaged in a final duel in the race to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Speaking to thousands of Conservative Tory members at Wembley Arena in London, the much-favoured Truss vowed that if she won, she would focus on "energy prices for consumers" and stimulating the economy.

Sunak avoided sharp attacks on Truss and rather differentiated himself from Johnson. He will lead a government "that is run competently and honestly" and that has "decency and integrity" at its core. "This is the change I will bring. This is the Prime Minister I will be."

The approximately 200,000 members of the conservative Tories will decide on Johnson's successor at the top of the party in a runoff election that will run until Friday. The winner is to be announced on Monday, who will then take up the office of Prime Minister the following day. In polls, Truss is well ahead of her rival Sunak. Prime Minister Johnson resigned in early July after an internal party revolt against his much-criticized leadership as party leader.

Many people in Britain long for an end to this election campaign. "British politics has been a lesson in torture over the past month," commented columnist Simon Jenkins in the Guardian newspaper. "The election campaign has so damaged both candidates that Tory members - and the public in general - would seem to prefer even a discredited Boris Johnson as prime minister." There was temporary talk of a "civil war" within the Conservative Party.

The long-running campaign that began with Johnson's July 7 withdrawal announcement is crippling the country at a time when it desperately needs leadership. Inflation is over 10 percent and rising, energy prices will probably quadruple soon, Brexit is far from over, plus the Russian war against Ukraine. These are just the absolute top issues that the new prime minister has to deal with from day one. There are also internal concerns. The biggest challenge for the newcomer to Downing Street is Boris Johnson, says political scientist Matthew Flinders from the University of Sheffield. Because the outgoing prime minister sees himself unfairly thrown out of office. Johnson will not silently disappear from the stage, says Flinders.

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