Truss or Sunak to be crowned next Conservative leader and prime minister today

UK

Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will be crowned the next Conservative Party leader and prime minister of the UK later today, after a gruelling summer contest.

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have spent the past six weeks battling it out to persuade Tory members that they have what it takes to run the party – and the country – after Boris Johnson resigned.

But the nation is now hours away from finding out which of the pair have won the keys to Number 10.

At around 12.30pm, the returning officer for the Conservative leadership election – chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady – will announce the result of the contest.

Who will be the next PM? Watch and follow live from 12.30pm on Monday as Boris Johnson’s successor is announced

Mr Johnson will then later this week make his return to the Tory back benches, while the victor of the leadership race will be looking ahead to appointing their top team after visiting the Queen in Balmoral.

On the eve of the announcement, Ms Truss – who has been widely tipped to defeat rival Mr Sunak for the majority of the contest – promised to unveil a plan to deal with the energy crisis within a week if she becomes PM.

More on Boris Johnson

The foreign secretary refused to go into any detail on what this might be like, but speculation is mounting she is considering freezing energy bills for millions of households.

The Daily Telegraph reports she is planning such a freeze in order to halt “energy Armageddon”.

And Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby understands from political and Whitehall sources that – if she wins the leadership contest – Ms Truss will announce a package of support that is going to be bigger than perhaps expected.

“I think it will be a shock and awe moment,” a senior ally of Ms Truss said.

“Knowing Liz well, she’ll want a big bang package bigger than people expect and that won’t just about energy, it will be about resisting Treasury orthodoxy. She’ll want to show the public she hears them.”

There have been ever-louder calls in recent weeks for the government to intervene to support the most vulnerable, with energy bills set to rise to around £3,500 this winter for the average household.

Meanwhile former chancellor Mr Sunak, who has described himself as the “underdog” for much of the campaign, reiterated that he would continue on as an MP if he loses the election during an interview with the BBC.

He also did not rule out running for the leadership again if he does not win this time around.

The latest polling among Tory party members has suggested Ms Truss will win the leadership race.

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What will be in the PM’s in-tray?

The interviews came as the two contenders were warned that the next prime minister faces the second most difficult brief since World War Two.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, senior Tory David Davis said whoever inherits the keys to No 10 faces the second most difficult post-war in-tray, after Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Johnson will officially remain in post until his replacement formally takes office on Tuesday.

For the first time ever in her reign, the Queen will receive Mr Johnson at her Scottish residence Balmoral, in Aberdeenshire, due to ongoing health concerns.

Here, Mr Johnson will formally tender his resignation.

This will be followed by an audience with the new Tory leader, where she or he will be invited to form a government.

Later in the week the new PM is expected to give a speech outside Downing Street, appoint their cabinet and other ministerial aides and will take part in their first session of Prime Minister’s Questions against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Read more: What time is the result and what happens next?

Mr Johnson has sought to use his final weeks to outline what he perceives to be his legacy from his time in Downing Street.

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Will you rule out a comeback?

He has been hesitant to discuss his future plans for when he leaves Number 10, but asked what sort of ex-PM he would be, the current PM told reporters on Thursday: “I think only time will tell is my answer on that one.

“But my intention and what I certainly will do is give my full and unqualified support to whoever takes over from me.

“Otherwise, really to get on with life.”

Read more: Who is in the running for top jobs in the next government?

Meanwhile, a close ally of Mr Johnson hinted that this may not be the end of his career in frontline politics.

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‘Never say never’ on Johnson comeback

Lord Edward Lister was asked on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday about reports some MPs were experiencing “seller’s remorse” over Mr Johnson’s departure and want him to make a comeback.

He said Mr Johnson was “the best prime minister we’ve had”, adding: “I think he would continue to be a good prime minister. I think he would be very successful in a further general election.”

When asked if he might be tempted to make a comeback, Lord Lister added: “Well, maybe in the future, I’d never say never on anything with Boris Johnson, anything is possible in the future.”

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