Former Minister of Finance Sunak was the first to win for the next Prime Minister of Great Britain

  • Sunak gets the strongest support
  • Mordaunt takes second place and Truss third
  • The new leader faces a terrifying inbox

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – Former finance minister Rishi Sunak won the most support from Conservative MPs on Wednesday in the first vote to choose who will succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and British prime minister, while two other rivals were eliminated.

Sunak, whose resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer last week helped precipitate Johnson’s downfall, secured the support of 88 out of 358 MPs, with Junior Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt second on 67 votes and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss third on 50. .

Nadhim Zahawi, who took over as finance minister from Sunak last week, and former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt were knocked out after failing to get the required 30 votes. They join three other candidates who dropped out the day before.

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Those remaining – who also include former equality minister Kemi Badenoch, attorney general Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat, chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee – will go into a second round on Thursday.

Subsequent votes will be held among Conservative MPs, eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes each time, to reduce the field to the final two by July 21. The new leader will then be chosen between the two by 200,000 members of the Conservative Party in the country as a whole, and will be announced on September 5.

While Sunak may be the most popular candidate with his colleagues, a YouGov poll of almost 900 party members showed Mordaunt as the favourite, beating everyone else in the run-off. She had a huge advantage over Sunak, who has fared poorly against almost all of his rivals, and is now the bookies’ favourite. read more


Whoever wins will face a daunting challenge as they must rebuild public trust damaged by a series of scandals involving Johnson, from breaking COVID-19 isolation rules to appointing a lawmaker to cabinet despite being told about allegations of sexual misconduct .

The UK economy is facing rising inflation, high debt and low growth, leaving people struggling with the biggest strain on their finances in decades. All this is set against the backdrop of an energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which has sent fuel prices soaring.

As the contest tightens, it has become increasingly volatile as rival camps trade barbs, with some offering a series of tantalizing promises of tax cuts.

Sunak said it was not credible to offer more spending and lower taxes, saying he was offering honesty “and not fairy tales”.

Zahawi said he was smeared over his personal finances, while Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who was fiercely loyal to Johnson and now backs Truss, accused Sunak’s team of “dirty tricks” as part of the “Stop Liz” strategy.

“I believe that his (Sunak’s) behavior towards Boris Johnson, his disloyalty means that I could not possibly support him,” Brexit Options Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News on Wednesday.

Johnson, who won a large majority in December 2019, announced last week that he would step down after a spate of ministerial resignations and in open rebellion from many Conservative MPs.

His potential successors have stressed how they will offer integrity and reliability in return, but face questions of their own, such as why they supported Johnson for so long. Sunak – like Johnson – was punished for violating the rules of isolation.

Political opponents say the candidates have focused only on winning support from the right wing of the ruling party by talking about tax cuts and more defense spending, rather than addressing the cost-of-living crisis facing the public.

Polls also show that while the Conservatives are at loggerheads, they are trailing the main opposition Labor Party significantly, even though an election is not due for several years.

“I am your best chance of winning that election. I am the candidate that Labor fears,” Mordaunt said as she officially launched her campaign on Wednesday.

People really wanted the “good old things” of low taxes, little government and personal responsibility, she added.

Amid the pledges, Andy King, a board member of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which independently monitors public finances, told a parliamentary committee that taxes would have to rise or spending be cut to maintain fiscal sustainability.

The government also said it would hold a confidence vote in itself on Monday – which it is almost certain to win – after blocking an attempt by the opposition Labor Party to pass one. read more

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Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Alistair Smout, Andrew MacAskill, William James, Faqrouq Suleiman and Muvija M; Writing by Michael Holden; Edited by Catherine Evans, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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