Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss under Britain’s next prime minister: ITV debate at Riverside Studios on 17 July 2022 in London, England.
Handout sheet | Getty Images News | Getty pictures
LONDON – Liz Truss will face Rishi Sunak in the final round of a close-knit race to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Penny Mordaunt ran out of the race on Wednesday after receiving the least support in a fifth round of elections for conservative MPs.
Former Minister of Finance Sunak maintained the lead and won 137 votes, while Foreign Minister Truss came in second with 113 votes. International Trade Minister Mordaunt slipped to the bottom of the runoff with 105 votes. There were two spoiled ballots.
Truss and Sunak will now go against each other to be appointed leader of Britain’s Conservative party and thus prime minister.
The result of the final vote, which falls to members of the Conservative Party, will be announced by September 5, and Johnson is expected to remain in place as interim prime minister until then.
What happens afterwards?
Wednesday is the last vote in a close contest to succeed Johnson, who resigned as leader of the Conservative Party on July 7 after a series of scandals and mass resignations from his own cabinet.
Eight candidates made it through to the first round of voting on July 12, with the number gradually reduced by conservative lawmakers over five stages.
In a preliminary vote on Tuesday – the fourth of the competition – Kemi Badenoch, a former minister for local government and then for women and gender equality, was eliminated after receiving 59 votes. Sunak received 118 votes, followed by Mordaunt with 92 and Truss with 86.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is fighting to become Britain’s next prime minister.
Future Publishing | Getty pictures
The last word will now go to members of the Conservative Party – of which an estimated 200,000, or 0.3, of the British population – will vote for their favorite candidate.
In the coming weeks, the two participants will take on a number of campaign events around the country, where they will be asked by voters about their policies.
Members of the Conservative Party will then choose the winner by postal ballot, and the successful candidate will automatically become Prime Minister.
Too close to call
Sunak, who ruled Britain’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic, has so far emerged as the favorite to win Britain’s top job. But little is secured in the fast-moving world of British politics.
In a YouGov poll on Tuesday among members of the Conservative party, Sunak was seen losing to both Mordaunt and Truss in the last two-way ballot. At that point, Truss seemed to beat Sunak 54-35, while Mordaunt was on his way to defeating him 51-37.
Sunak has been steadfast in his opposition to tax cuts, arguing instead that bringing down rising inflation is Britain’s top priority. However, he has faced criticism for a number of flaws under Johnson’s leadership, including breaches of the Covid-19 lock rules.
UK Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak leaves 11 Downing Street in London on 23 March 2022.
Daniel Leal | AFP | Getty pictures
Nevertheless, Truss has not been without its share of pushbacks, including proposals to change the Bank of England’s mandate and introduce a number of tax cuts.
A separate YouGov poll on Wednesday showed that more than half (52%) of members of the Conservative Party consider personality as the best trait they see when choosing a new leader. Just under a third (32%) cite conventional conservative policies, while less than 1 in 5 (19%) cite Brexit.
This comes as the British Labor Party is seen beating the Conservative Party in a parliamentary election, according to a recent survey.
Britain will hold its next parliamentary election by January 2025, but the incoming prime minister can choose to call a vote before then.