Liz Truss joins race to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister

Liz Truss has announced her long-expected leadership bid. Credit: UK Government

Liz Truss has joined the Tory leadership race to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister.

The foreign secretary threw her hat into the ring with a social media video setting out her vision - as many of the 10 other candidates have already done - and followed her rivals by promising tax cuts.

In a video posted to Twitter with the tagline "Trusted to deliver", she said a prime minister with "experience, who can hit the ground running from day one" is needed.

The senior Cabinet minister, who is widely expected to be a front-runner in the already crowded race, promised to “start cutting taxes from day one” to help with the cost of living.

She may have struggled to set herself apart from the other candidates when plotting how to snatch the keys to Number 10, given so many of the competitors have also offered tax cuts.

Critics have been urging candidates to explain how they would pay for the tax cuts and many have been accused wanting to have their cake and eat it too with promises they will be unable to deliver.

Ms Truss has pledged to reverse the controversial national insurance hike if made Tory leader, as she insisted she can be “trusted to deliver”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, while also offering tax cuts as part of his strategy to win the leadership race, avoided specific pledges in his social media video and instead promised backbenchers support with something they will want to secure perhaps more than anything else.

"I can help you win your seat," he said, as he appealed directly to the MPs whose nominations he needs to get into the competition's final round.

In the 13-second long video, he says: "My case for leadership is simple: I can plan, I can deliver, I can communicate, I can campaign, I can help you win your seat."

Which Tories are running to replace Boris Johnson?

It's mixed field of competitors - mainly on the right wing of the Conservative Party - which could be described as a David and Goliath race, with backbench minnows taking on Cabinet big beasts.

The likes of Rehman Chishti, a newly appointed Foreign Office minister largely unknown outside Westminster, are taking on forces such as former health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.

Here's a list of Tory MPs waiting in the starting blocks before the rules of the race are officially set out this evening:

  • Rishi Sunak, former chancellor

  • Nadhim Zahawi, current chancellor

  • Liz Truss, foreign secretary

  • Sajid Javid, former health secretary

  • Suella Braverman, attorney general

  • Grant Shapps, transport secretary

  • Kemi Badenoch, equalities minister

  • Tom Tugendhat, backbencher

  • Jeremy Hunt, former health and foreign secretary

  • Penny Mordaunt, trade minister

  • Rehman Chishti, Foreign Office minister

What are the rules of the contest? And how long will it take?

The timetable and rules of the leadership race, such as how many nominations a candidate will need to progress on to the next round, will be announced by the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, following a meeting on Monday evening.

It's understood the committee wants the packed pool of candidates to be whittled down to two by next Thursday, so the MPs can make their nominations before they break for summer recess on July 21.

Bob Blackman, joint-executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, said the threshold for support to enter the Conservative Party leadership race is likely to be 20.

He told Sky News: "The view is that candidates to get on the ballot paper should demonstrate a broad swathe of support amongst Conservative MPs.

"So we're looking at a proposer, a seconder and either 18 supporters or possibly more supporters in order to reduce that list."

The threshold in the previous leadership contest was eight nominations, but it's being increased to 20 wants to speed up the process.

"We've got to slim down the list of candidates pretty quickly down to two.

"And the one thing that we're committed to do is to achieve getting to two candidates by Thursday 21 July.

"That means that we'll hold a succession of ballots over the next few days in order to get to that position."

Ballots are likely to be held this Wednesday and Thursday and next Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

He added: "The first ballot is likely to have a threshold of 10% of the votes, i.e. 36 MPs, supporting a candidate for them to go through to the second ballot. That once again is not confirmed yet, but I suspect that will be the case.

"After that we probably won't need thresholds because the list will shorten considerably."

Once there are just two candidates remaining, the decision will be passed to Tory members who will vote for the winner and whoever gets a simple majority will be crowned party leader and prime minister.

Who is backing who?

Former Cabinet minister Michael Gove – who was dramatically sacked by Mr Johnson earlier this week – pledged his support for Ms Badenoch.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said she would back Ms Truss.

Andrea Leadsom, who has contended for the Tory leadership in the past, endorsed Ms Mordaunt.

Mr Sunak is leading the race at this early stage with the most nominations - a huge 34 - and is endorsed by former Cabinet colleagues Oliver Dowden and Mark Spencer.

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What is Liz Truss offering?

Ms Truss’s pledge to scrap the national insurance rise, which came into effect in April, mirrors that of rival Mr Javid.

It marks a departure from her defence of the policy as a minister in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, prior to his resignation, when she was bound by collective responsibility to support the move publicly.

The levy was introduced to raise funds for the NHS and social care, but has proved controversial at a time when households are feeling the squeeze from soaring food and energy bills.

Ms Truss argued “it isn’t right to be putting up taxes now”, and as leader she would take “immediate action” to assist with living costs.

She said she would “keep corporation tax competitive” – hinting that she wants to look again at Mr Sunak’s plans to hike the rate in April 2023, but did not go so far as to match some of her fellow contenders’ pledges to scrap the rise entirely.

The Foreign Secretary said she would “get the private sector growing faster than the public sector, with a long-term plan to bring down the size of the state and the tax burden”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had long been expected to launch her leadership bid. Credit: PA

Writing in The Telegraph, she said: “Under my leadership, I would start cutting taxes from day one to take immediate action to help people deal with the cost of living.

“I would reverse the national insurance increase that came in during April, make sure we keep corporation tax competitive so we can attract business and investment into Britain, and put the Covid debt on a longer-term footing.”

Ms Truss said her plan would get the country back on track towards becoming a “high-growth and high-productivity powerhouse”.

“It is built on a clear and longstanding Conservative philosophy, including bold supply-side reform,” she added.

The Foreign Secretary said she had “led the way” in making the most of Britain’s “new-found freedoms” outside the EU, but insisted “we can go further, whether it is doing more to champion innovation or charting our own course on regulation”.

She said she would bring “clear and decisive leadership” to Downing Street, adding: “Colleagues know I mean what I say and only make promises I can keep. I can be trusted to deliver.”

Ms Truss said the Tories can win the next election, but acknowledged it will be “an uphill battle”.

Earlier, announcing her bid for the top job, Ms Mordaunt said the UK’s leadership “needs to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship”.

Candidates populated the Sunday morning broadcast round, with Mr Hunt, Mr Javid, Mr Shapps and Mr Tugendhat all making appearances to promote their campaigns.