LONDON — British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss cemented her place at the top of the list in the race to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson, winning the endorsement of an influential former rival for the top job on Saturday.
Tom Tugendhat, who was knocked out of the contest in previous rounds of voting by Tory lawmakers, said Truss had the “resolve, determination and passion” to be prime minister.
The endorsement is a blow to former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, the other runner-up in the race for the next Tory leader. The winner will be chosen by the votes of approximately 180,000 party members across the country.
Polls give Truss an edge with conservative members, although Sunak is more popular with the general public, who have no say in the race. The winner will be announced on September 5 and will automatically become prime minister, replacing Johnson, who resigned as Tory leader this month after three years in office following months of ethics scandals.
Tugendhat, a prominent figure in the party’s centrist ‘One Nation’ group, wrote in London’s Times newspaper that Truss had “the experience in foreign affairs to build alliances and keep our country safe”.
Truss also won support this week from Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who is highly regarded by party members for his handling of Britain’s response to the war in Ukraine. Wallace said Truss’ international experience as Britain’s chief diplomat and his commitment to increasing military spending gave him “the edge”.
Sunak, who was the favored candidate of conservative lawmakers who narrowed the field from an initial 11 nominees, is struggling to gain momentum. He accused Truss of peddling unrealistic promises, particularly on the economy. Truss says she will cut taxes immediately to ease the cost of living crisis, while Sunak says getting inflation under control first is vital.
Sunak said Truss’ tax cuts would give a “sugar rush” but would eventually “fuel the fire” of inflation which is already at its highest level in 40 years.
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