Tory leadership

Sunak and Mordaunt emerging as final choice

Rishi Sunak is likely to face Penny Mordaunt for the Tory leadership

Rishi Sunak is now most likely to be challenged by Penny Mordaunt for the Tory Party leadership after Nadhim Zahawi and Jeremy Hunt were knocked out of the race in the first round.

Tory party leadership rules for this contest dictate that all candidates with fewer than 30 votes in today’s vote are eliminated.

Mr Sunak received 88 votes from MPs with Ms Mordaunt on 67, after YouGov research suggested she is the overwhelming favourite of activists.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who had been considered the biggest rival to the former Chancellor, recorded a relatively low showing on 50. Some say she may struggle to make the last two who go to a run-off of Tory members. 

Ms Truss is just 10 votes ahead of Kemi Badenoch on 40. Tom Tugendhat, the backbench foreign policy expert, had 37 votes, and Suella Braverman, the attorney general, won 32.

Mr Zahawi, the new Chancellor, received 25 votes and Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, 18.

A second ballot will take place on Thursday, with a third on Monday and further votes until the candidates are whittled down to a final pair. Conservative members will vote on the final two.

A YouGov poll today suggested that Ms Mordaunt, who today said she was the candidate that Labour most feared, would comfortably defeat any rival. She has promised “smaller government”, joking at her campaign launch that she had been “speed dating MPs.”

If she is eliminated, Ms Truss would defeat Mr Sunak, according to the polling.

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