Malaysian man is Singapore’s first local monkeypox case

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Singapore’s Ministry of Health has confirmed the first local case of monkeypox infection in the country. The patient is a 45-year-old male Malaysian national who resides in Singapore. He tested positive for monkeypox on July 6.

Malaysian man is Singapore's first local monkeypox case

He is currently hospitalised at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and his condition is stable.

“He is not linked to the imported case announced on June 21,” said the ministry.

The ministry added that the man first developed lower abdomen skin lesions on June 30, and subsequently experienced fatigue and swollen lymph nodes on July 2.

He developed fever and a sore throat on July 4 and sought medical attention where initial tests for other possible medical conditions were done.

When these tests returned negative, he was sent on July 6 to the NCID, where he was isolated for further assessment.

The ministry added that three close contacts have been identified as of Wednesday, including two housemates and one social contact.

All close contacts will be placed on quarantine for 21 days from their last contact with the case. Contact tracing is ongoing.

“Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness where patients recover within two to four weeks. A small percentage of those infected can fall seriously ill or even die. Those particularly vulnerable to complications are young children, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals,” the ministry said.

It added that risk to the general public remains low, given that transmission requires close physical or prolonged contact.

The ministry added that it would continue to monitor the monkeypox situation closely and calibrate its preparedness and response measures as needed.

It encouraged the public to exercise personal responsibility by monitoring their personal health and maintaining good hygiene, especially during travel.

The public should also avoid close contact with other individuals known or suspected to be ill with monkeypox infection, it said.

The first local case detected in Singapore follows an announcement by World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday that it would reconvene its monkeypox experts to decide if the worsening outbreak now constitutes a global public health emergency.

“Europe is the current epicentre of the outbreak, recording more than 80 per cent of monkeypox cases globally,” he said. 
Tedros also said that he would reconvene the experts in the week of July 18, or sooner if needed.

Most monkeypox infections so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age and chiefly in urban areas, according to the WHO.

The Straits Times

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Published : July 07, 2022

By : The Star

Why a monopoly like the Lao electricity company is making losses

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Electricite du Laos (EDL), a monopoly company which should generate a significant amount of revenue from its dominance in the energy market, has been operating at a loss for many years and has accumulated huge debts.

Why a monopoly like the Lao electricity company is making losses

While debating the government’s move to reform state-owned enterprises at the ongoing National Assembly session, EDL’s managing director Chanthaboun Soukaloun outlined the main reasons for EDL’s continuing losses and the kind of reforms needed to turn things around.

“In theory, if a company has a monopoly in a market, that company should make a profit because it can determine the price at which it sells its products. But EDL is a core business for the socio-economic development of Laos so the company cannot raise the price of electricity arbitrarily,” he said.

Chanthaboun, who is a National Assembly member for Champassak province, told members of parliament that the money earned by EDL from the sale of electricity is in kip, the Lao currency.

But a large segment of the company’s expenses must be paid in foreign currencies, except the salaries paid to company staff. The recent depreciation of the kip has had drastic consequences for EDL, resulting in additional loss of income.

Chanthaboun said that although many hydropower plants have been built in Laos, as part of the government’s strategy to turn Laos into the “battery of Southeast Asia”, most of the dams are owned by investors, not the Lao government.

This means that EDL has to buy energy from various hydropower projects and then sell it to consumers.

For years, the government has set the price of electricity below the production cost, because the government realises that many Lao people can’t afford to pay more, Chanthaboun said.

This is one of the main reasons why EDL is operating at a loss.

In addition, it is government policy to ensure that more people, especially those in remote areas, can access the electricity grid.

To achieve this, large sums of money have been borrowed to build transmission lines and electricity stations to carry power to rural areas.

Chanthaboun said all of these issues must be taken into account when implementing reforms at EDL.

It is essential to determine whether the state-owned business is operating at a loss because of poor management or mechanisms that hinder sound business operation.

In April this year, the government set up a committee to overhaul the operations of EDL as part of efforts to strengthen business operations across all state enterprises.

The committee will recommend measures that will enable EDL to earn more revenue and pay off the debts it has accumulated.

The state owns 178 enterprises, nearly all of which have recorded losses over many years.

Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh told the National Assembly recently that embezzlement by executives and staff, combined with poor management, are the main reasons for the chronic losses suffered by state enterprises. Nepotism is also rife, which further hinders efficient business operation.

Vientiane Times

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Published : July 07, 2022

By : Vientiane Times

Chinese people go hot and cold over ice creams

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Ice-cream lovers in China are fuming over the their high prices. The unusually high price of ice creams has become a hot topic for discussion on social networking sites this summer. Under fire are some premium ice-cream brands.

Chinese people go hot and cold over ice creams

Social networking sites also erupted when someone recently posted a video showing an ice cream of the Zhong Xue Gao brand remaining rock solid even after being left at room temperature (31 degrees Celsius) for an hour. Yet another video showed an ice cream of the same brand not melting even after being exposed to the flame of a lighter, triggering concerns about how safe it was for consumption.

In a statement issued on Sina Weibo on July 6, the company said that its salt coconut flavour ice cream, which is at the centre of attention because of the viral videos, consists of 35.8 per cent milk, 19.2 per cent light cream, 11.2 per cent coconut milk, 7.4 per cent condensed milk and 6 per cent whole milk powder. Therefore, more than 40 per cent of it is solid matter, 20 per cent higher than the national standard.

Regarding carrageenan, the company reiterated what is common knowledge, that it is a natural extract from red algae and widely used as a thickening agent in ice creams and beverages.

From the time it was established, China-based Zhong Xue Gao has been dubbed the “Hermes of ice cream” and holds a prime market position. However, it was twice fined by Shanghai’s market watchdog in 2019 for making false claims in its advertisements — such as labelling ordinary raisins as premium level, claiming it uses Japanese tea leaves when it actually uses domestic ones and wrongly claiming its popsicle sticks meet infant use standards.

Chinese people go hot and cold over ice creams

Many ice-cream manufacturers employ marketing gimmicks such as collaborating with other brands and the entertainment industry — things that appeal to the younger generation — to make their products more appealing. However, if it is these publicity stunts and not the raw materials used or production and labour costs that are driving up ice cream costs, then consumers have a right to know the truth before they spend a dime.

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Published : July 07, 2022

By : China Daily

‘No divine medicine for crisis in Myanmar’

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Following June 29-July 3 visits, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn, in his capacity as the Asean special envoy on Myanmar, said his second trip to the crisis-hit country was “somewhat fruitful” while cautioning that he has no “divine medicine” for Myanmar’s crisis.

‘No divine medicine for crisis in Myanmar’

Sokhonn made the remarks following his visit, which was capped off by the separate Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, held there on July 4.

Sokhonn briefed an audience of journalists and foreign diplomats upon his return to Phnom Penh on July 6 regarding the results of his second trip, which he said had been “somewhat fruitful”.

Sokhonn said leaders of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC) had hinted that they may be willing to accept some opposition members if they were to cease fighting, but only under certain conditions.

“The SAC’s main condition is that the opposition groups have to change their mindsets and that consists of three elements. First, they can’t continue to attempt to destroy the government if they are going to join it. Second, they aren’t going to be replacing the government. And third is that the 2008 constitution must be the basis for peace talks,” Sokhonn said, adding that these conditions were set by SAC chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, whom he met for over two hours on this trip.

“Although there are conditions attached, I think that at least we have paved the way for the start of negotiations. The wheels are back on for peace talks so now they can roll forward. But whatever is possible will depend on all of the sides in the conflict in Myanmar. But at least the door is open – whether they want to enter or not, it depends on them, as we said earlier,” he said.

Sokhonnn elaborated on various aspects of his visit, including the issue of humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, which he reiterated should be provided to all of the people there without discrimination.

He said he was told that his latest request to meet with former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was denied by the SAC, who cited “judicial procedures” as their reason.

Sokhonn also mentioned that his request to meet with another opposition figure – Su Su Lwin, former Myanmar First Lady and founding member of the now-dissolved National League for Democracy (NLD) previously led by Suu Kyi – was also denied, with the SAC, in this case, saying it was due to her poor health.

“The SAC has shown me reports of violence being committed by armed groups made up of former civilians, such as beheadings and the amputation of limbs, along with other killings, bombings and murders. If this continues, it will just create a circle of revenge and threats without end,” he said, citing SAC’s claims of extreme violence by their opponents including the burning of entire villages.

“I also condemn the killing of teachers committed by the ‘civilian army’ to show the opposition movement’s defiance towards the SAC – that is, if such cases have really happened as I was told,” he said, in reference to the fact that the incidents described by the SAC have not been independently confirmed or widely reported on to date.

He said that following his meetings with opposition leaders and foreign diplomats stationed there, he concluded that the rival groups – especially the armed civilian insurgents – are at least partly responsible for the ongoing violence, including the destruction of public property and the killings of civil servants such as teachers and health officials who were working voluntarily to respond to the public’s needs in the middle of a crisis by educating children and helping fight Covid-19.

He said that the cessation of violence can only be achieved through the participation of all stakeholders in the conflict. All the groups he met had said they were concerned about the violence, threats and fear which is haunting all of the non-combatants in the regions they control.

One basic principle that all of the stakeholders could agree on was the urgent need for further assistance to Myanmar to find peace, preferably through a process of inclusive dialogue, he noted.

“Although I was moved by these frank requests and I personally feel motivated to act, nevertheless I have to accept that such expectations are beyond the mandate of the Asean special envoy.

“I told the armed groups that Asean is just a coordinator or facilitator and cannot be a director or further involved as a party to the Myanmar conflict, which can only be solved by Myanmar through Myanmar-owned and Myanmar-led strategies.

“I have fewer than six months left in my mandate and I should say that I don’t have a divine medicine to resolve the Myanmar crisis. I am not a magician. To be honest, what Asean and myself can accomplish is to facilitate the peace process by promoting inclusive dialogue acceptable by all sides.

“What we can do is to help stop the violence and remind all sides not to push their country further to the brink by fanning the flames of civil war, which could trigger regional security and stability crises, but would especially be a tragedy for Myanmar’s people,” he said.

Sokhonn said Asean will try its best to help Myanmar as long as the bloc maintains its solidarity in doing so – a prospect he was optimistic about given the depth of commitment shown by Asean member states so far, no matter how much pressure has been brought to bear on them.

The Phnom Penh Post

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Published : July 07, 2022

By : The Phnom Penh Post

Japanese Shipping industry finds course in automated navigation

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The shipping and shipbuilding industries are focusing their efforts on automated navigation systems, aiming to resolve such issues as the ageing of seafarers and chronic staff shortages. An ongoing government-supported project is expected to be put into practical use by 2025.

Japanese Shipping industry finds course in automated navigation

Test trials were conducted for the project led by the Nippon Foundation between February and March this year. The 749-ton container ship Suzaku made a round trip between Tokyo Port and Tsumatsusaka Port in Mie Prefecture in four days, using an automated navigation system.

In automatic navigation systems, artificial intelligence analyzes the surrounding vessels and obstacles seen by onboard cameras and then selects the best route for the vessel to navigate unmanned.

In the test trials, the captain and four other crew members were on board in case an unexpected situation occurred, and the vessel was constantly monitored via satellite from the onshore support centre in Chiba City. Should it be deemed necessary, the vessel could be controlled remotely from the centre.

In the end, however, 97% of the 790-kilometre voyage was operated by the automated system.

Tokyo Bay, the departure point, and Ise Bay, where Tsumatsusaka Port is located, are considered to be among the world’s busiest waters.

“We were able to achieve results in difficult channels. This could help Japan to lead the world in the field of unmanned vessels,” said Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation.

Total costs for the project stand at about ¥8.8 billion, and some 50 firms have participated. The goal is to achieve a certain level of automated navigation by 2025 and to realize completely unmanned navigation by 2040.

Tests for high-speed navigation, as well as departure and docking, have also been conducted on small tour boats and large car ferries.

Hopes for fewer accidents

In December 2020, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry created safety guidelines for the development and design of vessels equipped with automated navigation systems.

The guidelines set out basic principles that “the division of roles between humans and systems should be clarified” and “the crew should be able to activate or deactivate the system at will.”

Apart from the Nippon Foundation project, test trials have been conducted in three fields: operation, departure and docking, and remote operation.

Behind the joint effort of the public and private sectors is a sense of urgency in the industry arising from a labour shortage.

Among seafarers engaged in the domestic marine transport of cargo and passengers, nearly half are 50 or older, and over 20% are 60 or older.

The total number of seafarers has remained flat at around 28,000 for the past 10 years. However, the job-to-applicants ratio for cargo ships has stood at a little over 2 to 1 since 2017, indicating a chronic labour shortage.

About 80% of cargo ship collisions occur because of human error in operation and watchkeeping. “Automation could contribute greatly to improving the work environment and reducing the number of accidents,” a transport ministry official said.

Chance to lead the world

The effort also could help the shipbuilding industry regain its footing.

Japan had the largest share of the global shipbuilding market until the 1990s. Now the market has been overtaken by China, which controls 40% of the market, and South Korea, which controls 31%. Japan’s share stands at 22%.

Being the global front-runner in the field of automated navigation technology could lead to the revitalization of the shipbuilding industry.

“This could bring in new business opportunities, such as ocean transportation to remote islands,” said an official at Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., a transport company taking part in the Nippon Foundation project.

Efforts have begun to create international rules on the practical application of this technology.

The International Maritime Organization has been holding discussions on such issues as a liability in the event of an accident and qualifications for operating such ships remotely.

“Substantial progress has been made to put automated navigation technology into practical use,” said Keiji Habara, a visiting professor at Kobe University and an expert on maritime risk management. “For Japan to take the initiative in creating international standards for both technology and systems, across-the-board and continued efforts are necessary. This is a crucial time.”

Published : July 07, 2022

By : The Japan News

China-ASEAN Expo establishes exhibition area for RCEP members

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The 19th China-ASEAN Expo, slated to be held from Sept. 16 to 19 in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, will establish an exhibition area for participants of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

China-ASEAN Expo establishes exhibition area for RCEP members

Companies and agencies from RCEP member states such as the Republic of Korea and Japan have confirmed their participation in the expo, according to Shi Zuyao, deputy secretary-general of the expo secretariat.

ASEAN members such as Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei have begun arranging their booths.

The total exhibition area for domestic participants is 82,000 square meters, which will be divided into separate exhibition areas, including electronic information, new land-sea passages, cross-border e-commerce and new retail, environmental protection cooperation and new energy vehicles. 

Published : July 07, 2022

By : Xinhua

High prices on livestock deprive Palestinians of Eid al-Adha preparations

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Palestinian markets witness sales stagnation ahead of Eid al-Adha which starts on July 9 in Palestine, as a result of the rocketing prices of goods.

High prices on livestock deprive Palestinians of Eid al-Adha preparations

For the second year in a row, Ibrahim Sabaaneh, a Ramallah-based man, was unable to buy a sheep for the feast.


“In the past, I used to buy the sheep for 200 U.S. dollars, but now it requires about 350 dollars, which is a heavy burden for me,” the 47-year-old father of four complained.
 

The celebration of Eid al-Adha is not limited to sacrifice. There are other essential things, such as new clothes, sweets, and decorations that must be provided for the festival.

“At the current deteriorating condition, I can only provide some food and sweets to prepare my family to celebrate the festival,” he explained.

Mohammed Hijawi, a Ramallah-based owner of a livestock farm, owns about 600 sheep and 150 calves.

However, he complained about the deterioration in the purchasing power of clients this year, noting that he was able to sell only 20 percent of the livestock stockpile on his farm.

In fact, the prices of sacrifices rose significantly in the West Bank, due to the high costs of fodder resulting from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West Bank markets seemed empty of customers, while merchants were busy checking their goods crowded in the shops, while street vendors were trying to attract passers-by to buy from them.

Sumaia Juma’a, a Bethlehem-based woman, was only able to buy the basic needs for her family and small quantities of sweets and cakes.

The 39-year-old mother of three complained that the high prices prevented her from buying the sheep for Eid as she used to do in the past.

A Palestinian seller waits for customers at a livestock market ahead of the Eid al-Adha, in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on July 2, 2022. (Photo by Khaled OmarXinhua)A Palestinian seller waits for customers at a livestock market ahead of the Eid al-Adha, in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on July 2, 2022. (Photo by Khaled OmarXinhua)

“Year by year, the rate of demand for sacrifices is decreasing due to the difficult economic situation as well as high prices,” Mohammed Qazaat, a livestock trader told Xinhua.

About 10 years ago, he recalled that he used to import more than 1,000 calves and more than 1,500 sheep before Eid al-Adha, but now he hardly imports 150 calves and less than 50 sheep for fear of incurring heavy losses.

“Unfortunately, most of the people do not have enough money to go to the markets to buy basic needs, and this is reflected in the livestock market,” he said, adding that “the deteriorating situation affects everyone, whether he is a merchant or a customer.”

A Palestinian woman shops at a market ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Gaza City, July 5, 2022. (Photo by Rizek AbdeljawadXinhua)A Palestinian woman shops at a market ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Gaza City, July 5, 2022. (Photo by Rizek AbdeljawadXinhua)

The Palestinian market needs about 210,000 head of cattle for sacrifice during Eid in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry. 

Published : July 07, 2022

By : Xinhua

About 50,000 sit for delayed college entrance exam in Shanghai

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Around 50,000 candidates in Shanghai sat for the college entrance exam, or gaokao, on Thursday, one month later than their peers in other parts of China due to a local COVID-19 resurgence this spring.

About 50,000 sit for delayed college entrance exam in Shanghai

The annual national exam normally kicks off on June 7, but Shanghai announced the decision to postpone it to July 7-9 in May, as the city was battling local COVID-19 flareups.
 

All candidates had been tested for COVID-19 twice over the past three days. Those who are currently under quarantine, or are found with a fever before entering the examination centers, among other unusual circumstances, shall take the exam in prearranged isolated rooms, according to the municipal education authorities.

Candidates are required to take the nucleic acid test on Thursday and Friday at the exam site, and they shall undergo another round of testing on Saturday back in their residential community after the exam is over.

Shanghai reported 32 confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 22 local asymptomatic carriers on Wednesday, the municipal health commission said Thursday.

Published : July 07, 2022

By : Xinhua

1st LD-Writethru: China’s service trade up 22 pct in first 5 months

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China’s service trade value grew 22 percent year on year to 2.365 trillion yuan (about 352.98 billion U.S. dollars) in the first five months of 2022, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed on Thursday.

1st LD-Writethru: China's service trade up 22 pct in first 5 months

Of the total, service exports expanded 26.3 percent year on year to 1.15 trillion yuan, and service imports were 1.21 trillion yuan, up 18.2 percent from a year ago.
 

In May alone, service trade value stood at 456.28 billion yuan, up 22.2 percent year on year.

The growth of service trade exports outpaced import growth by 8.1 percentage points during the January-May period, resulting in a 46-percent drop in the service trade deficit, data showed.

During the first five months, China’s trade of knowledge-intensive services maintained steady growth, rising 10 percent year on year to about 988.67 billion yuan, said the ministry.

Sectors such as telecommunications and information services saw rapid increases in exports, while insurance services were among the fastest growing areas in imports.

The tourism service trade continued to recover, with its trade value expanding 7.7 percent from a year ago to 330.84 billion yuan in the first five months.

In contrast to merchandise trade, services trade refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transportation, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing, and accounting.

Published : July 07, 2022

By : Xinhua

UK’s Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister and who could replace him ?

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Boris Johnson said on Thursday he regretted not being able to stay on as Britain’s prime minister as he announced his resignation outside his Downing Street residence.

UK's Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister and who could replace him ?

After days of battling for his job, Johnson was deserted by all but a handful of allies after the latest in a series of scandals broke their willingness to support him.

Bowing to the inevitable as more than 50 ministers quit and lawmakers said he must go, an isolated and powerless Johnson confirmed he would resign on Thursday.

“The process of choosing that new leader should begin now. And today I have appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will until a new leader is in place,” Johnson said.

“Of course, it is painful to not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects,” he said, speaking at a lectern outside Number 10 Downing Street.

“But as we have seen at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.”

Johnson said he was sad to be leaving the best job in the world in the statement watched by his wife Carrie, and added: “Them’s the breaks.”

Support for Johnson had evaporated during one of the most turbulent 24 hours in recent British political history, with finance minister, Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed to his post on Tuesday , calling on his boss to resign.

Zahawi and other cabinet ministers had gone to Downing Street on Wednesday evening , along with a senior representative of those lawmakers not in government, to tell Johnson the game was up.

Initially, Johnson refused to go and seemed set to dig in, sacking Michael Gove – a member of his top ministerial team who was one of the first to tell him he needed to resign – in a bid to reassert his authority.

By Thursday morning as a slew of resignations poured in, it became clear his position was untenable.

Londoners react to news the British Prime Minister resigns

Insurance broker Mike Parton said he didn’t see potential replacements in the ruling Conservative party, but would be sad to see him go.

“I think he’s made quite a lot of mistakes, but he’s done a lot of good things as well,” he said.

Banker Georges Allan said Johnson “should have been gone a long time. He’s overstayed his welcome by a long, long margin.”

Fund manager Rosie McMellin said she thought  “the writing’s been on the wall” for a while, despite initially being a fan of the prime minister.

“I think it was getting very desperate. I think we’ve got to look at our reputation on a global basis as well,” she said.

Insurance underwriter Aaron Brown gave a much shorter summation of Johnson’s premiership, labelling it “a complete shambles with everything.”

The Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take about two months, and Johnson will stay on as PM until the autumn.

Below is a summary of some of those who could be in the frame to replace him:

UK's Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister and who could replace him ?

LIZ TRUSS

The foreign secretary is the darling of the Conservatives’ grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home.

Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, evoking a famous 1986 image of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was also captured in such a pose.

The 46-year-old spent the first two years of Johnson’s premiership as international trade secretary, championing Brexit, and last year was appointed as Britain’s lead negotiator with the European Union.

Truss said on Monday Johnson has her “100% backing” and she urged colleagues to support him.

JEREMY HUNT

The former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership.

Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair the health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government.

Earlier this year, he said his ambition to become prime minister “hasn’t completely vanished”. Hunt said he would vote to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month which Johnson narrowly won.

BEN WALLACE

Defence minister Ben Wallace, 52, has risen in recent months to be the most popular member of the government with Conservative Party members, according to Conservative Home, thanks to his handling of the Ukraine crisis.

A former soldier himself, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992.

He began his political career as a member of Scotland’s devolved assembly in May 1999, before being first elected to the Westminster parliament in 2005.

He was security minister from 2016 until taking on his current role three years later, winning plaudits for his department’s role in the evacuation of British nationals and allies from Afghanistan last year, and the sending of weapons to Kyiv during the recent war in Ukraine.

RISHI SUNAK

The finance minister was until last year the favourite to succeed Johnson. Sunak was praised for a rescue package for the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, including a jobs retention programme, which prevented mass unemployment, that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion).

But he has faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status and a fine he received, along with Johnson, for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules.

His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favour lower taxes.

He quit the government on Tuesday saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.

NADHIM ZAHAWI

The current education secretary impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the fastest rollouts of COVID-19 jabs in the world.

Zahawi’s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other Conservative contenders.

He went on to co-found polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. He said last week at some stage it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister.

PENNY MORDAUNT

The former defence secretary was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she backed his rival Hunt during the last leadership contest.

Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in now-defunct reality TV diving show.

Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She said voters wanted to see “professionalism and competence” from the government.

She had previously expressed loyalty to Johnson.

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Published : July 07, 2022

By : Reuters