Boris Johnson has spoken to his former finance minister Rishi Sunak as they eye a key deadline in the race to replace Liz Truss as Britain’s prime minister, UK media have reported.
Both men have become early favorites to replace Truss, who announced his resignation on Thursday during a tenure that has plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil.
Although neither has formally declared his candidacy, Suna has reached the 100-nomination threshold to reach the ballot stage and Johnson’s allies say he has returned to the country from a Caribbean vacation with plans to enter the race, PA said. about the news
A fallout between the two men could be divisive for the ruling conservative party, not least because many of Johnson’s supporters blame Sunak’s resignation in July for sparking the fall of his government. Some outlets have speculated that the two men could work out some sort of deal.
BBC sources said the meeting took place but “did not disclose what was discussed”, while UK news agency PA Media reported that the two “said they would be in closed talks on Saturday evening”.
Sky News, meanwhile, referred to the meeting as “top secret”.
If one (or both) of the two men decide to run, they will be up against House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, the first and so far only MP to officially enter the race.
The last time the Conservatives ran a leadership race – after the demise of the Johnson government – Truss came first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative leader of the process, said any candidate must receive at least 100 nominations from party MPs by 2pm on Monday.
The threshold reduces the field of potential candidates to a maximum of three, as the party has 357 MPs.
If only one candidate meets this threshold, he automatically becomes the leader. Otherwise, the remaining candidates will be voted online by members of the Conservative Party, which will close on Friday 28 October.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into his disastrous tenure that plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil. His successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since he voted for Brexit in 2016.
On Saturday, former home secretary Priti Patel became one of Johnson’s top supporters in his bid to become prime minister. “Boris has a mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and a proven track record of getting big decisions right,” he tweeted.
But his return to the top job has divided opinion within the Conservative Party, with many MPs terrified of the prospect of Johnson becoming a second government.
His former deputy prime minister and former foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told the BBC “we cannot go back” and said Johnson is investigating the partygate scandal over illegal Downing Street gatherings.
The former prime minister is expected to appear in the coming weeks before the Commons Privileges Committee, which is investigating whether he misled Parliament in front of parties, which could result in him being suspended or expelled as an MP.