Factbox-Views of frontrunners to succeed UK's Boris Johnson

·4-min read
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves Downing Street, in London

LONDON (Reuters) -The race to succeed Boris Johnson as British prime minister has begun, with eight candidates still in the running for a contest which will ultimately be decided by around 200,000 Conservative Party members.

Below is what the bookmakers' top three favourites have said on key issues:

RISHI SUNAK - Current favourite

On tax: As finance minister, Sunak set Britain on course to have its biggest tax burden since the 1950s.

In the first speech of his leadership campaign, Sunak said it was not credible to promise both "lots more spending and lower taxes" and that he did not regret the fiscal decisions he took during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We need a return to traditional conservative economic values, and that means honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales," he said.

He promised to cut taxes once inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May, had been brought under control.

"It is a question of when, not if," he said.

On immigration: Sunak's campaign launch video began with a reference to his grandmother who moved to Britain in the 1960s. His spokesman told The Times newspaper he was proud to come from a family of immigrants but he believed Britain must control its borders, and would retain the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

"We need to build a new consensus on people coming to our country. Yes to hard working, talented innovators, but crucially, control of our borders," he said in his campaign speech.

On cost of living: As finance minister Sunak launched support packages worth a total of 37 billion pounds ($44.14 billion) to help Britons cope with rising costs. Before resigning, he indicated he was willing to go further if needed.

On Brexit: Sunak voted for Brexit in 2016.

Other pledges: Sunak used one of his first campaign pieces to talk about women's rights: "I will protect women's rights and ensure women and girls enjoy the same freedom most males take for granted in feeling safe from assault and abuse."

PENNY MORDAUNT

On tax: Mordaunt told her launch campaign: "My key fiscal rule is that debt as a percentage of GDP will fall over time. My monetary policy will be on controlling inflation and our supply side reforms will yield a Brexit dividend on investment, infrastructure, incentives and innovation."

She also said she would offer "a relentless focus on cost of living issues. I've already announced that on day one we are going to slash VAT on fuel at the pump by half and we are going to raise income tax thresholds for basic and middle-income earners in line with inflation".

On cost of living, she said earlier: "Our economy is faced with the twin problems of soaring inflation and falling confidence – with a real risk of recession ahead. My government will focus on getting inflation under control, working closely with the independent Bank of England. We cannot risk spiralling wages and prices that lead to lower standards of living and loss of jobs."

On government, she told her campaign launch: "First of all, we have to admit that Whitehall is broken ... in my administration we will see it look and feel very different, very fast... We are going to have a tighter cabinet."

On Brexit: Mordaunt campaigned for the 'Vote Leave' group during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

In a December 2021 speech as a junior trade minister she said: "Brexit is not an event to be mourned by the international community. Or an act of self-harm or one that requires us to be punished. It is a massive opportunity to anyone who believes in democracy and the power of trade as a force for good in the world."

LIZ TRUSS

On tax: Truss wrote in the Telegraph: "I would start cutting taxes from day one to take immediate action to help people deal with the cost of living. It isn't right to be putting up taxes now."

Truss said this would include reversing a rise in social security contributions which came into effect in April and making sure Britain keeps corporation tax "competitive".

On the economy:

She has said she plans to get Britain "back on track towards becoming a high-growth and high-productivity powerhouse", including through "bold supply-side reform".

On immigration:

Truss has not publicly commented on the government's Rwanda immigration policy since declaring her candidacy, but was a member of the cabinet that approved it.

On Brexit:

Truss voted to remain in the European Union but soon said she had changed her mind. Her supporters have said she plans to drive forward regulatory divergence from the EU, including overhauling business regulation, to spur a more dynamic economy.

As Foreign Secretary she introduced legislation to parliament to unilaterally override some post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, a policy stance she is expected to pursue. That deepened tensions between the two sides.

On Ukraine:

In her role as Foreign Secretary, Truss has said that Russia needs to fully withdraw from Ukraine and that sanctions against it should continue until that happens.

($1 = 0.8382 pounds)

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)

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