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Boris Johnson leads ‘anyone but Rishi’ campaign, tells defeated candidates not to back him: report

As the race for UK Prime Minister heats up, caretaker Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged defeated Tory member candidates to “back anyone but Rishi Sunak”, according to local media.

According to The Times newspaper, Johnson, who resigned as leader of the ruling Conservative Party on July 7 after the departure of several of his ministers, asked the unsuccessful candidates to ensure that Sunak does not become prime minister.

Additionally, Johnson reportedly told contestants that he would not endorse anyone or interfere in the contest.

According to the newspaper, this secret meeting is part of the covert “everyone but Rishi” campaign spearheaded by Johnson and his supporters.

The newspaper further reported that Johnson felt betrayed by Sunak, whose resignation sparked his exit even as he lost support from members of his own party.

However, Johnson believes that Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, who has been endorsed by her fiercest cabinet allies, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, are capable candidates to take over the Tory leadership, a source that had direct access to one of the conversations recounted in the newspaper.

Johnson also reportedly indicated he was open to Penny Mordaunt, the young trade secretary, succeeding him if it meant Sunak was left out of the race.

“All No. 10 [Downing Street] the team hates Rishi. It’s personal. It’s vitriolic. They don’t blame Saj [Sajid Javid] to knock him down. They blame Rishi. They think he had been planning this for months,” a source quoted by the newspaper said.

Read also | UK politics: Remaining Tory leadership candidates clash over tax policy and economics

But an ally of Johnson, who did not wish to be named, denied the campaign’s “anyone but Rishi” claims, but acknowledged the caretaker prime minister harbored resentment over Sunak’s “betrayal”.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is being touted as the next leader of the Conservative Party, won the first two rounds of Tory MPs.

According to the latest vote tally, Sunak has 101, Mordaunt 83, Truss 64, Badenoch 49 and Tugendhat 32.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 5:29am on Thursday July 21st, 2022