UK: Rishi Sunak tops second round of voting in leadership contest

Former British finance minister garners 101 votes



Rishi Sunak, Britain's former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022. Photo: AFP
Rishi Sunak, Britain's former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022. Photo: AFP

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Thu 14 Jul 2022, 6:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Jul 2022, 7:20 PM

Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner to win the Conservative leadership election and take over as the next prime minister in September, on Thursday retained his top spot, winning 101 votes, followed by Penny Mordaunt with 83 and foreign secretary Liz Truss with 64.

Attorney general Suella Braverman, who polled the least votes – 27 – was eliminated from the contest. Three more rounds would be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to arrive at the last two candidates. The party’s over 160,000 members will then vote on the two candidates by postal votes.

It is widely assumed that Sunak will be one of the last two candidates in the fray, but there is much momentum in the campaign of Mordaunt, who appeals more to the party’s rank and file, than Sunak, who has now fallen in the bookmakers’ assessment, with Mordaunt the new favourite.

Voting trends suggest that the election could throw up a unique result: the 358 party MPs who vote until the last candidates are decided vote one way, and the party members vote the other way to decide the winner – and the prime minister, who will take over from Boris Johnson.

Besides Sunak, Mordaunt and Truss, the other two remaining in the fray are Kemi Badenoch (49 votes) and Tom Tugendhat (32).

Westminster was abuzz with claims and counter-claims about candidates using 'dark arts' and 'horse trading' to influence votes.

Truss launched her campaign live on television on Thursday, insisting that she has the right credentials and experience to lead the country through various issues such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict, cost of living and the many pending aspects of Brexit, including free trade deals with India and other countries.

A series of live television debates are scheduled from Friday. The final two candidates will also appear at hustings across the country later, as party members sent in their postal votes.

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