Jul 13, 2022 - World

Race to replace Boris Johnson down to 6 candidates after first round

Penny Mordaunt at her official campaign launch. Photo: Photo: Justin Tallia/AFP via Getty

The race to replace U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is down to six contenders after the first round of voting among Conservative members of Parliament.

Driving the news: Former chancellor Rishi Sunak led the pack with 88 votes, but a new poll found that trade minister Penny Mordaunt — who finished second in today's vote with 67— is far ahead of him among the broader party membership.

  • Successive votes among MPs will whittle the field down to two in the coming days, before party members pick the winner.
  • Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi, who oversaw the U.K.'s vaccine rollout and recently replaced Sunak as finance minister, both fell short of the 30-vote threshold to proceed to Thursday's second round. Both had been seen as strong contenders.
  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (50 votes), former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (40), and Attorney General Suella Braverman (32) are all competing to become the standard-bearer of the right flank of the party.
  • Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat (37), running as a no-nonsense centrist, also survived.

What to watch: Sunak is well-placed to reach the run-off, but a new YouGov poll of Conservative Party members suggests he would lose at that stage to every single rival other than Braverman. He trails Mordaunt by a whopping 67% to 28% margin.

  • That's established Mordaunt, a former defense secretary who is far less well known than Sunak (let alone Johnson) among the general public as the oddsmakers' favorite. But as she herself remarked today, "it's early days, chill out guys."

Go deeper: How it all fell apart for Boris Johnson

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