Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss announced the finalists for the UK’s next Prime Minister

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LONDON – Britain’s next prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party is almost certain to be either a minority or a woman. A winner will be announced in September after Tory lawmakers chose former finance minister Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss as finalists on Wednesday.

While Boris Johnson will continue as a kind of happy caretaker prime minister, he will be chosen as Johnson’s successor before the 200,000 or so dues-paying Conservative Party members in his stead.

Much of Britain is sitting on the sidelines. There will be no general election to choose a new prime minister, and although a televised debate is scheduled for Monday, many “husting” events will be off-the-record or closed to the press.

How the next UK Prime Minister will be chosen

The race between Sunak and Truss presents Tory voters with a choice between a man who claims to have come of age in the race and a woman who claims to be the only woman who has demonstrated real leadership.

Both rivals are conservative and to the outside world, their political differences are subtle.

Truss, 46, supports tax cuts.

Sunak, 42, says his plan is a “fantasy island” economy and that Britain must first bring inflation under control.

Sunak’s own family lines are a bit more painful. Earlier this year, it looked like his aspirations for higher office would be over reports His wife evaded taxes on millions in foreign income.

Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs heavy, married rich indeed. Akshata Murthy, whom he met at Stanford, was the daughter of NR Narayana Murthy, the Indian billionaire who founded Infosys. The couple appeared on the Sunday Times list of Britain’s 250 richest people, with a combined fortune estimated at 730 million pounds, or about $875 million.

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Their family left the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s official residence in April amid a tax dispute. But Sunak was the country’s finance minister – until His stern resignation This month began a rebellion against Johnson.

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Truss didn’t speak out against Johnson until he knew the tide had turned.

She is Britain’s first Tory female foreign secretary and says – echoing Hillary Clinton – that she is ready to run the country.From day one.”

If she wins, it will be the third time the Conservative Party has appointed a woman to the nation’s highest office, following the premierships of Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

Truss has won praise for his support for Ukraine — and has been the target of criticism from Russia.

Although she opposed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, she has said she regrets that vote, and has been a leading voice for Britain to rewrite Northern Ireland’s rules in a post-Brexit trade deal. He is an avid freelance marketer.

Sunak led in the first, parliamentary phase of the tournament, winning every round. Now, as the two finalists make their pitches to aspirants, polls suggest he is the underdog. A YouGov poll Conservative MPs published on Tuesday found Sunak likely to lose to Truss. She is too Bookies’ favourite.

But pundits say race is unpredictable. The telegram The newspaper, which is closely aligned with the Tories, warned that the leadership race would be the “worst” in the party’s history. In a televised debate last weekend, the candidates tore each other to pieces.

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“Liz, in your past you were a Liberal Democrat and a Remainer,” Sunak told Truss at one point. “I was wondering what you regret the most?”

Truss said she was “not born Conservative” – ​​her parents were “left-wing activists and I come from a political journey”. He added that he became a conservative after seeing “kids being dropped in my school”. Like Sunak, she didn’t go to an expensive boarding school.

Both will spend the summer — at golf course lunches, convention centers, discreet meetings with donors — making their pitches.

Meanwhile, Johnson will be saying a long goodbye. On Wednesday, he said goodbye to the House of Commons — and to fellow lawmakers who gave him the boot: “I want to thank everyone here, and hasta la vista, baby!”

Seriously, those were his final words — to borrow the catchphrase popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator 2.”

In Iraq, President George W. Resisting Bush’s premature declaration of victory, Johnson declared his legacy: “Mission mostly accomplished.”

Was it appropriate? Was it glib? Is that… genius? Johnson, a serial plasterer who relished the role of entertaining after-dinner speaker, won the hearts of his party and the country with such lines.

And don’t forget, Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California not once but twice.

Johnson is on his way out. But many in the halls of Westminster expect him to one day Come back again.

What’s next for Boris Johnson? Books, columns, speeches, comebacks?

It wasn’t a sad farewell from him on Wednesday, but all surface, all talking points, all great hits, fist pumps and the Prime Minister’s trademark runaway high-speed rhetoric delivered.

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As usual, the House of Commons was packed – and filled with the usual insults and point-blank – at the weekly session known as Prime Minister’s Questions, a gladiatorial contest for debaters graduated from Oxford and Cambridge.

There was murmuring, there was disturbance, there was “Noise from sitting position,” a legendary speaker of the House once called.

Johnson stood in the prime minister’s place at the “inbox”, to which he called “probably, definitely”.

At the end of his remarks, he offered this advice to his successor:

“Stay close to the Americans, stand by the Ukrainians, stand together for freedom and democracy everywhere.”

Who will be the next Prime Minister of England? What to know about candidates

And: “Lower taxes and deregulation to make it a better place to live and invest.”

“Focus on the road ahead, but always remember to look in the rearview mirror,” the Prime Minister said.

“Above all, remember this isn’t Twitter. It’s the people who sent us here,” he closed.

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