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It’s Rishi Sunak vs Liz Truss in final lap to succeed Boris Johnson as UK PM

Voting for second phase of race will now take place via postal ballot. The period between now and the end of August will also include time for campaigning and hustings by the two candidates.

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New Delhi: After five rounds of voting by MPs of the UK’s Conservative party, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have emerged as the top two contenders for the post of party leader.

The winner of this contest — to be chosen by the votes of 200,000 Conservative Party members in the second and final phase — will go on to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak secured 137 votes while Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, bagged 113 votes in the fifth round of voting held Wednesday. Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Trade Policy, was eliminated from the race after she got 105 votes.

Members of the UK’s Conservative party now have until the end of August to choose either Sunak or Truss as their party leader.

A survey of 725 members of the UK’s Conservative party by British market research company YouGov showed that despite receiving the most votes from Tory MPs in the first phase, Rishi Sunak could lose in the final round of voting.

The survey, published Tuesday, put Truss (54 per cent) ahead of Sunak (35 per cent) if they were to remain as the last two candidates.

The contest to pick the next occupant of Number 10, Downing Street, was necessitated by the resignation of Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party on 7 July. “It is now clearly the will of the parliamentary Conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and, therefore, a new Prime Minister,” Johnsons had said.

Boris Johnson’s decision to step down came in the backdrop of controversies like “Partygate”, which added to his unpopularity along with a ballooning cost of living in the UK.

If elected, Sunak will be the first Indian-origin PM of the UK.

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Second phase of Tory contest

The contest for leadership of the UK’s Conservative party is split into two phases, with the first decided by Tory MPs and the second by the members of the party.

With Tory MPs casting their vote in the fifth round Wednesday, the first phase is now complete.

Voting for the second phase will now take place via postal ballot. The period between now and the end of August will also include time for campaigning and hustings by the two candidates, both virtually and physically.

To make it to the first phase, each candidate needed the support of at least 20 MPs. In subsequent rounds, the candidates with the least votes were eliminated.

Former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, and Suella Braverman, the incumbent Attorney General, were knocked out after the first and second rounds of voting on 13 and 14 July.

In the third round of voting, Sunak secured 115 votes, Penny Mordaunt 82, Liz Truss 71, and Kemi Badenoch 82 votes. The chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, was eliminated after the third round on 18 July.

In the fourth round, Rishi Sunak received 118 votes, Penny Mordaunt 92, and Liz Truss 86 votes from Tory MPs.

After the fourth round of voting Tuesday, Kemi Badenoch, former equalities minister, was eliminated from the race.

The 1922 committee — a parliamentary group of backbencher MPs of the Conservative party — has reportedly set a deadline for the winner to be announced by 5 September 2022. A vote between the final two candidates may not be required if one of them drops out.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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