Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, emerged as the clear favorite to be the country’s next on Sunday. Prime Ministerafter Boris Johnson dramatically dropped out of the race to be leader of the Conservative Party.
Current PM Liz Truss resigned last week after just six disastrous weeks in office. Graham Brady, the Tory official responsible for the leadership race, said a new premier would be in place by Friday.
The candidates to replace truss have until 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Monday to win the support of 100 Conservative Party lawmakers to enter the race to become the new leader of the party — and the country. Johnson’s decision to withdraw from the contest leaves Sunak in competition with House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.
If both candidates win the support of 100 MPs, then it will be up to roughly 172,000 Conservative Party members to choose the new online voting leader.
On Sunday night, Sunak was the only one of the pair to hit the necessary threshold of 100 nominations.
If he remains the only one to have reached this number of supporters, he will automatically become the new leader of the Conservative Party. The party’s parliamentary majority assures that he will also become the country’s next prime minister.
After days of speculation, Sunak officially declared he would enter the contest on Sunday, writing on Twitter: “The UK is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis. That’s why I’m running to be leader of the Conservative Party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country.
“There will be integrity, professionalism and accountability at all levels of government that I lead and I will work day in and day out to get the job done.”
Many Johnson supporters have accused Sunak of helping oust Johnson from power in July following a series of scandals, but on Sunday night he paid tribute to the former prime minister after he withdrew from the race. “Boris Johnson delivered Brexit and the big vaccine rollout. He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever faced, then took on Putin and his barbaric war in Ukraine. We’ll always be with him. grateful,” Sunak tweeted.
“Although he has decided not to run again as Prime Minister, I really hope that he will continue to contribute to public life at home and abroad.”
Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, renewed calls for a general election on Sunday, after saying people were ‘fed up to the back teeth’ with the Conservative leadership and the consequences of the decisions of their government.
“There is a choice to be made. We need general elections! Let the public decide… Do they want to continue with this utter chaos, or do they want stability under a Labor government? Starmer asked during a BBC interview.
Mordaunt was the first to declare her candidacy on Friday. She promised a “fresh start” for the UK, aiming “to unite our country, keep our promises and win the next general election”. She also runs under a catchy hashtag: “PM4PM”.
Mordaunt came in third in the last leadership election, narrowly missing out on being introduced to the membership. With 105 MP votes in the last election, she is also expected to cross the new threshold and do well among party members, thanks in part to her military credentials. Mordaunt is a Royal Navy reservist and served for a short time as Secretary of State for Defence.
The last time the Tories held a leadership race – after the Johnson government fell – Truss came in first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third. Johnson did not run.