Final day of Tory leadership voting begins as Johnson seeks to establish legacy

·3-min read
Final day of Tory leadership voting begins as Johnson seeks to establish legacy

The race to replace Boris Johnson entered its final hours as the outgoing Prime Minister has sought to establish a long-term energy legacy.

Voting will close in the Conservative leadership contest at 5pm on Friday, before either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak is announced as the new prime minister next week.

As Mr Johnson counts down his final days in office, he committed £700m of Government investment towards a new nuclear power station in Suffolk, Sizewell C.

The Prime Minister hit out at the “paralysis” and “short-termism” of successive governments over nuclear power, as he stressed the importance of Sizewell C for the UK’s long-term energy supply while fuel bills continue to soar.

He added he was confident a deal to fund the power station will get “over the line” in the coming weeks, after he has resigned.

Mr Johnson’s term of office was rocked by the Partygate scandal and was ultimately brought to an end over how he handled allegations of inappropriate behaviour by former Conservative whip Chris Pincher.

Fresh allegations of misconduct were brought to light on Thursday night, with Sky News reporting one woman had been assaulted by a Cabinet minister, while another was groped by a senior No 10 aide.

Boris Johnson visit to East of England
Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed £700m of Government investment towards a new nuclear power station in Suffolk (Chris Radburn/ PA)

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss made their final leadership pitches to Conservative members at a leadership hustings in London on Wednesday, with the debate dominated by the rising cost of living.

Frontrunner Ms Truss claimed there would be no new taxes or energy rationing if she became prime minister, and dropped further hints about cost-of-living support this winter.

“I will also deliver immediate support to ensure people are not facing unaffordable fuel bills. I will be robust in my approach,” she said.

“But it isn’t right to announce my entire plan before I have even won the leadership and got my feet under the table.”

Mr Sunak has sought to portray himself as the candidate with a more realistic assessment about the way to approach the economy, with tax cuts not expected immediately if he becomes leader.

Rishi Sunak (centre) arrives for a hustings event at Wembley Arena, London, as part of the campaign to be leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister
Rishi Sunak has sought to portray himself as the candidate with a more realistic assessment about the way to approach the economy (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He told the audience at the final hustings that “we shouldn’t rule anything out” on energy rationing, and has previously said it would not be “moral” to leave struggling households without extra support this winter.

The leadership contest has been characterised by infighting among Conservative MPs, with blue-on-blue attacks continuing up until the final days.

On Thursday, Conservative former minister Michael Gove, who is backing Mr Sunak, described his rival Ms Truss’ pledge to not introduce new taxes as “foolish”.

But a Tory former chief whip said it was still possible for the party to reunite without damage following the contest.

Liz Truss during a hustings event at Wembley Arena, London, as part of the campaign to be leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister
Liz Truss claimed there would be no new taxes or energy rationing if she became prime minister (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper said: “Whoever wins this and gets elected as leader on Monday is going to have to behave in a way that enables the party to come back together.

“That means doing what both candidates have said, which is appointing a cabinet from across the party, all of the talented people in the Conservative Party.”

Though voting closes on Friday, the result will not be announced until Monday.

Mr Johnson and his successor will then go to Balmoral rather than Buckingham Palace for the appointment of the new prime minister, in a break from tradition.

The Queen will receive Mr Johnson on Tuesday September 6 at her Aberdeenshire home, where he will formally tender his resignation.

This will be followed by an audience with the new Tory leader, where she or he will be invited to form a government.