LONDON: The UK is set to announce its new Prime Minister on Monday, after a six-week long head-to-head competition between Indian-origin former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, to elect the new leader of the Conservative Party who will replace the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
47-year-old Liz Truss aims to become the third female prime minister of the UK while her opponent Rishi Sunak, 42 will make history by becoming the first Indian-origin Prime Minister, if he prevails. All eyes are on the results now, which will be announced by the Conservative party today via mail-in ballot.
However, Truss who is widely expected to take over from Boris Johnson as the next British prime minister seems to have less fan following. According to the latest YouGov survey, the citizens of Britain are split on whether Liz Truss would be a better PM than Boris Johnson but tend to think Truss would be worse than every other PM back to Thatcher.
Nearly 52 per cent said that Truss would make a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister, while 43 per cent said they did not trust her "at all" to deal with the issues of the expensive cost of living.
A further 37 per cent of Britons believe she will be much the same as her predecessor. The voting by Tory members for their choice between Sunak and Truss which started early August closed on Friday evening.
The two contenders have gone through a postal ballot of all the Conservative members, numbering around 160,000 Tory electorate to replace the UK outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson.
The online and postal voting closed on Friday evening, the deadline for Tory members to register their votes. "Voting is now closed. Thank you to all my colleagues, campaign team and, of course, all the members who came out to meet me and lend your support," wrote Rishi Sunak.
During their hustings, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak had explained their long-term visions for Britain. Both contenders went through bouts of 12 nationwide events with the first bout in Leeds, Northern England.
Truss indicated that she will strongly push back against "identity politics of the left" as she has envisioned the legislation for single-sex spaces such as domestic violence shelters whereas Sunak backtracked by putting forward the idea of cutting VAT to revive the country's economic situation.
Moreover, Truss has promised to introduce a moratorium on the green levy and reverse the National Insurance increase, responding to which Sunak said that direct financial assistance is the best way out to support people with low incomes rather than tax cuts.
On Saturday, Truss promised to address energy bill problems right away if elected. "If elected, I plan within the first week of my new administration to set out our immediate action on energy bills and energy supply... We need to take difficult decisions to ensure we are not in this position every autumn and winter. Sticking plasters and kicking the can down the road will not do. I am ready to take the tough decisions to rebuild our economy," Truss said in a Saturday article for a UK-based media outlet, reported Sputnik.
On Brexit, both the Tory leadership candidates vowed to reset the relationship between European Union (EU) and the UK. They said that the next leader will continue to create opportunities to re-establish the ties.
"The EU and UK are "at loggerheads" over the Northern Ireland Protocol but with a new prime minister we have a chance to reset that relationship," Sunak had said earlier in one of the face-offs with Truss.
Speaking to the Tory members on the economy, the former chancellor had said that he will reform the National Health Service (NHS) to prevent constantly throwing more money at it whereas Liz Truss underlined the need for a fiscal event to deal with the cost of living crisis and said that her first priority would be reducing taxes.
"My first priority is reducing taxes because what I don't believe is taking money in taxes and giving it back to people in benefits", she said, adding that country's growth is the need of the hour. Notably, corporation tax, policing and ethics were the key highlights in the Conservative party hustings in Birmingham.
Truss has been leading in surveys of Tory members after vowing immediate tax cuts as Britain confronts a slump in living standards. The former chancellor, Rishi Sunak and British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss traded blows at each other over economic policy, and foreign relations in the first-ever TV debate on July 25.
The candidates reportedly clashed over Britain's future ties with China after cutting ties with Russia. The second Tory leadership debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, however, got cancelled after presenter Kate McCann fainted and collapsed live on air.
In July, Sunak and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss emerged as the final two candidates in the country's leadership race of the ruling Conservative party. International Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was knocked out in the final round of ballot among Conservative lawmakers. Sunak won 137 votes and Truss 113.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are vying to replace Boris Johnson as UK's next Prime Minister. The Tory Leadership Race was triggered after Johnson was forced to step down on July 7 amid an avalanche of resignations of government officials, who protested against his scandal-plagued leadership.