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List of would-be successors to Britain's Johnson grows with Badenoch bid

LONDON: Former British equalities minister Kemi Badenoch today became the latest to enter the race to succeed scandal-dogged prime minister Boris Johnson as Conservative leader.

Badenoch was one of the nearly 60 members of parliament and aides who quit this week after Johnson apologised for appointing a senior colleague facing sexual assault claims to a prominent role.

Johnson was forced to resign but has said he will stay on until his successor is appointed — a process that could take months.

In an article published in The Times newspaper overnight, Badenoch called for change, and said the British public was "exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric".

"I'm putting myself forward in this leadership election because I want to tell the truth," the 42-year-old wrote.

"It's the truth that will set us free."

"Without change the Conservative Party, Britain and the Western world will continue to drift" and rivals will "outpace us economically and outmanoeuvre us internationally", she added.

As equalities minister, Badenoch was criticised over delays in banning conversion therapy by members of the government's LGBT+ advisory panel, who said she should stand aside for someone who "had more heart for the work".

A timetable for the leadership contest is expected on Monday, with the winner installed by the party's annual conference in early October.

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak, whose resignation late on Tuesday set off a chain reaction, is among the frontrunners for the top job.

The announcement of his candidacy drew immediate support from several senior MPs.

He tops the latest poll of Conservative party members who will eventually choose their next leader, as the preferred choice of a quarter of respondents.

He was followed by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who was supported by 21 per cent, and then Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with 12 per cent, according to the Opinium poll for Channel 4 News.

Neither Truss nor Wallace has declared they are running.

Other announced candidacies include Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat and Attorney-General Suella Braverman.

Former health and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who lost to Johnson in 2019, was "virtually certain" to run again, a source close to Hunt told British media. — AFP

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