A leading London business group has called on London’s Conservative MPs to select a party leader and next Prime Minister with “the highest standards of honesty and personal probity” as they prepare to cast their votes before tomorrow’s 2pm deadline, with roughly half of them yet to make public which candidate will get their support.
The individual open letters from Richard Burge, chair of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) which represents thousands of firms in the capital, will be taken as a heavy hint that former PM Boris Johnson, himself a London MP, who was forced out of Number 10 in July following a series of scandals, should not be backed, as allies continue to signal that he will formally enter the contest late in the day.
The “highest standards” tests is one of five the chamber wants MPs to apply when making their decisions, the other four being “credibility with the markets”, the ability to “deliver market stability”, willingness to listen small and medium sized firms, and a commitment to a medium term energy price strategy for businesses.
The BBC’s running list of all 357 Tory MPs shows that only eight of the 21 representing seats in Greater London have disclosed their preference, with six of them backing the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and two favouring Johnson, who stepped down as PM following mass resignations from his cabinet in the wake of the so-called “partygate” affair. A House of Commons committee is investigating whether Johnson misled fellow MPs about the matter.
Sunak has a big lead in declarations so far, with more than 140 compared with the 23 of Penny Mordaunt, the only other candidate officially in the running, and Johnson’s 57. A list compiled by the Guardian also includes Elliot Colburn (Carshalton & Wallington), who the paper says has endorsed Mordaunt.
London MPs appearing on both the BBC and Guardian lists as Sunak supporters are:
- Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon).
- Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham).
- Bob Neil (Bromley & Chislehurst).
- Chris Philp (Croydon South).
- David Simmonds (Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner).
- Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet).
Those publicly backing Johnson are:
- Matthew Offord (Hendon).
- Andrew Rosindell (Romford).
Explaining why he had written to the MPs, Burge said: “The markets have all but lost faith in the UK and British businesses are facing the worst economic headwinds in a generation. We cannot have Conservative MPs playing political games at such a critical time. Given the challenges faced by business across the UK, the national interest must come before party and personal interests.”
Photograph: Max Curwen-Bingley.
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