To ‘Back Boris’ or be ‘Ready for Rishi’ for UK PM’s post is a question fiercely dividing the Tory party

To ‘Back Boris’ or be ‘Ready for Rishi’ for UK PM’s post is a question fiercely dividing the Tory party

Though the Rishi Sunak camp says he already has the backing of 100 MPs, he is yet to formally throw his hat in the ring. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s struggle is to reach the 100 MP support mark to get through the first ballot.

Loveena Tandon

New Delhi,UPDATED: Oct 22, 2022 15:07 IST

To ‘Back Boris’ or be ‘Ready for Rishi’ for UK PM is a question fiercely dividing the Tory party

Rishi Sunak [L] enjoys the support of 100 Conservative party lawmakers while many MPs want Boris Johnson [R] to return as the PM. (Photo: Reuters)

By Loveena Tandon: It was Boris Johnson who brought in a victory with an 80-seat majority in 2019, which makes many believe he is the only one who can lead the Tory party to yet another win in the 2023 general elections.

This belief made Boris cut his holiday short and declare to his supporters that, “I am up for it.”

The struggle is to reach the 100 MP support mark to get through the first ballot, which happens on the 24th of October.

Amidst all the speculation and support coming through in the public domain, there is poaching of MPs going on behind the scenes.

Rishi Sunak had the support of over 120 MPs during the last round of ballot about six weeks back when Boris resigned and ultimately Liz Truss became the PM on the back of a membership vote.

Though the Rishi camp says he already has the backing of 100 MPs, he is yet to formally throw his hat in the ring like Penny Mordaunt already has.

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Backing Boris comes with a caveat. His case about breaking the Covid rules and alleged lying to parliament, popularly named the ‘Partygate,’ is being investigated by the Privilege Committee.

He was already fined for breaking the rules but if found guilty of lying to the parliament, even if he is the PM at the time, he would need to resign.

The Tory party and the country would be back in the same position then – of choosing yet another PM in a few weeks’ time.

Apart from the party looking like an utter mess, the same image is reflected in the country. Exactly a point that Sir Kier Stammer, leader of the Labour Party, who is sure to become the PM if elections were called tomorrow, made when he said, “The risk is not a general election…The risk is continuing with this chaos.”

The Liberal Democrats, the third largest party, has gone a step ahead to stop Boris, who they call, “Britain’s Berlusconi.” They have tabled a motion to ban MPs ‘found to have broken the law in office from becoming the PM.’ While in office, Boris Johnson was fined for breaking Covid rules by the police.

ALSO READ | Ready for Rishi? Indian-origin MP now favourite to replace Liz Truss as UK PM

By rule, general elections cannot be called unless the PM calls for it or the party chosen in the previous elections could not make the government.

Back to square one, the party in power – the Tories – are attempting yet again to find a leader of their party for the second time in less than six weeks.

It’s a war of perceptions of who can win the next election for the Tory party: Penny, Rishi or Boris?

It could turn into a war between two arch rivals: Boris and Rishi, from the way the game of throne is being played out.

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