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Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak lead race to be UK next PM

Former UK finance minister, Rishi Sunak and ex-PM, Boris Johnson are leading the potential contenders to replace Prime Minister, Liz Truss on Friday, following Ms. Truss’s cataclysmic resignation on Thursday.

Already, several candidates are canvassing support to become the leader of the governing Conservative Party in a fast-tracked contest.

After Ms. Truss’s forced resignation the previous evening, ending her six weeks in power, those who wanted to replace her were trying to find the 100 votes from Conservative lawmakers needed to run in a contest which the party hopes will reset its ailing fortunes and basically prevent the holding of a general election before January 2025.

With the Conservatives all but facing a wipeout in such a national election, according to opinion polls, the race is on to produce the fifth British premier in six years, with Ms Truss becoming the shortest-serving PM in British political history.

The winner of the leadership contest will be announced either on Monday or Friday next week, according to a Reuters report. 

In what would be an extraordinary comeback, Mr Johnson, who was himself ousted by lawmakers just over three months ago, was running high up the ranks alongside Mr Sunak to be crowned the next prime minister.

“I think he’s got that proven track record to turn things around,” a senior Conservative MP said.

“Boris Johnson is the character the Labor Party fears, Boris Johnson can win the next general election,” he added.

Analysts say Mr Johnson, who left office comparing himself to a Roman dictator brought into power twice to fend off crises, might face difficulty in reaching the 100 votes after his three-year tenure was blighted by scandals and allegations of misconduct.

Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Omotola Oguneye and Tony Okerafor