Six candidates remain in the running to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
This follows a first round of voting within the party on Wednesday, which saw two of the initial eight candidates drop out of the running, due to lack of support.
The six candidates include Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Junior Trade Minister Penny Morduant, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, Head of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat and Attorney General Suella Braverman.
It was a clear win at the private poll for Sunak who received 88 votes and a smooth sail to the second round.
Sunak, who was one of more than 50 members of the parliament to resign last week, said that despite contributing to the wave of resignations that set the stage for Johnson to step down, his campaign will not support the growing campaign to demonise Johnson or any of his competitors in the press.
Sunak said “I look across the field of candidates and I see colleagues and friends, I see people I admire and respect, people with exceptional qualities. I want to say to all of them we are still part of the same conservative family and when this election is over, we’re going to work together for the British people.”
Contrasting himself from the competition, Sunak said that instead of making unfeasible promises, he is seeking to invite the people of Britain to partake in truthful, adult conversations about the worrying situation that the country is in.
“I am prepared to give everything I have in service to our nation. To restore trust, rebuild our economy and reunite the country,” he added.
Coming in a strong second from Wednesday’s voting was Junior Trade Minister Penny Morduant , who received 67 of the 357 votes cast by Conservative Lawmakers that day.
While Sunak appears to have the most support on the wide nominations stage, a recent poll by YouGov involving conservative party members names Morduant as a clear favourite in the election.
When made to go head-to-head against all candidates, simulating the circumstances in which will exist when the final two candidates are named, Morduant emerged victorious; including defeating Sunak with a wide margin of 67-28, according to the YouGov study.
Morduant’s campaign focuses on changing the tide at a time when she says the British people are fed up with unfulfilled promises and divisive politics.
She said, “We have to admit that Whitehall is broken. There are great people that work there, but in my administration, it will look and feel very different, very fast.”
She believes that what the government needs at this time is “some serious machinery” of changes to modernise the government, including tightening the cabinet, and assigning clear and timely deliverables to ministers of state.
The remaining candidates, in order of number of votes received in the first round, are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with 50, Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch with 40, Head of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat with 37 and Attorney General Suella Braverman with 32.
Timeline of election
A timetable confirmed by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee of the Party’s backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady, outlines the coming months of the election as follows:
The candidates’ list will be shaved down again today July 14th in the second round of voting where the candidate with the fewest votes will be removed.
From July 18 – 21, there will be several additional rounds of voting, until only two candidates remain.
These two final candidates will have the rest of July and the entirety of August to face the hustings of Party Members around the country.
A new Prime Minister is expected to be announced on September 5th.