Zahawi, who recalled coming to Britain at age 11 speaking no English, said “the Conservative Party has made me who I am today.” But if the contenders reflect the face of modern Britain, the winner will be chosen by an electorate that does not. The next party leader, who will also become prime minister, will be chosen by about 180,000 Conservative members who tend to be affluent, older white men.
Like most of his predecessors as Conservative Party leader, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is wealthy, white and male. There’s a good chance his successor will be different, AP reports.
The eight candidates running in a party election to succeed Johnson are four men and four women, with roots in Iraq, India, Pakistan and Nigeria as well as the U.K. The race could give the country its first Black or brown prime minister, its third female leader, or both.
With the first round of voting by Conservative lawmakers set for Wednesday, the bookies’ favorite is former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, son of Indian parents who came to Britain from East Africa. Other contenders include Kemi Badenoch, whose parents are Nigerian; Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad and came to Britain as a child and Suella Braverman, whose Indian parents moved to Britain from Kenya and Mauritius.
With Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss also in the race, only two white men — Tom Tugendhat and Jeremy Hunt — are running.
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