To succeed Boris Johnson as the head of the Conservative Party and prime minister, Rishi Sunak, a former British finance minister, received the most votes in the first round of voting.
There will be more voting rounds on Thursday and, if necessary, the following week, up until only two candidates are left.
In the first vote to choose who will succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and British prime minister on Wednesday, former finance minister Rishi Sunak received the most support from Conservative lawmakers, while two additional competitors were defeated.
88 of the party's 358 MPs voted in favor of Sunak, whose departure as finance minister last week contributed to Johnson's downfall. Junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt came in second with 67 votes, and foreign minister Liz Truss came in third with 50.
Former foreign minister Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi, who replaced Sunak as finance minister last week, were eliminated for not receiving the necessary 30 votes. They join the other three candidates who withdrew the day before.
On Thursday, the remaining candidates—among them former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, attorney general Suella Braverman, and parliamentary foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat—will advance to a second round.
To narrow the field to a final two by July 21, additional voting among Conservative lawmakers will be held, eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes each time. The 200,000 national Conservative party members will then select one of those two as the new leader, who will be unveiled on September 5.
Sunak may have the support of the majority of his colleagues, but Mordaunt was deemed to be the clear favorite in a run-off, according to a YouGov poll of around 900 party members. Sunak, who performed poorly against almost all of his competitors and is currently the bookies' favorite, trailed her by a wide margin.
Raft of issues
Whoever prevails will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to restore public confidence that has been damaged by a string of scandals involving Johnson, from violating Covid-19 lockdown guidelines to appointing a lawmaker to the government despite being informed of sexual misconduct allegations.
Inflation is skyrocketing, there is a lot of debt, and there isn't much growth in the British economy, so individuals are dealing with the tightest financial pressure in decades. The backdrop to all of this is a fuel price spike brought on by an energy shortage that has been made worse by the conflict in Ukraine.
As the campaign heats up, it has also grown more contentious as opposing groups trade insults and some make a string of eye-catching tax-cutting promises.
More spending and lower taxes, according to Sunak, really aren't viable proposals; instead, he advocates honesty rather than "fairytales."
While Culture Minister Nadine Dorries, who was steadfastly devoted to Johnson and is now supporting Truss, has accused Sunak's team of "dirty tricks" as part of a "Stop Liz" plot, Zahawi claimed that he had been defamed over his personal affairs.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for Brexit possibilities, told Sky News on Wednesday that he could not reasonably back Sunak because of his behavior toward Boris Johnson and his treachery.
Johnson, who secured a sizable majority in December 2019, said last week that he will quit in the wake of a wave of ministerial resignations and with many Conservative Party MPs in open uprising.
His potential successors have made a point of saying how they would provide integrity and trustworthiness in comparison, but they also have to answer why they supported Johnson for such a long time. Sunak was penalized for violating the lockdown regulations, much like Johnson.
Political opponents claim that the candidates have not addressed the public's cost of living crisis, instead choosing to talk about tax cuts and increased defense spending in an effort to gain the support of the right wing of the ruling party.
Even though there won't be an election for a few years, polls indicate that the Conservatives are losing ground to the main opposition Labour Party even as they argue among themselves.
“I am your best shot of winning that election. I am the candidate that Labour fear,” said Mordaunt as she officially launched her campaign on Wednesday.
People really wanted “the good old stuff” of low tax, small state and personal responsibility, she added.
Amid the promises, Andy King, board member of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which independently monitors public finances, told a parliamentary committee taxes would have to rise or spending be cut to maintain fiscal sustainability.
The government has also said it will hold a confidence vote in itself on Monday — which it is almost certain to win — after blocking an effort to bring one by the opposition Labour Party.