London, July 20
Rishi Sunak on Wednesday clinched his place for the final leg of the race to succeed Boris Johnson and will go head-to-head with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as one of two finalists to take charge as Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister.
Sunak won the fifth and final voting round of Tory MPs with a resounding 137 votes, while second-placed Truss won the support of 113 MPs. Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was knocked out of the race after coming in third with 105 votes.
Tory MP Davis alleges rigging
- Alleging rigging, a Tory MP says, “There is no way Truss picked up 15 votes from Tom Tugendhat. Someone is moving votes around.”
- David Davis claims the Sunak camp has reallocated votes from Tugendhat to Truss to stop the trade minister reaching the final.
The 42-year-old British Indian former Chancellor, who has topped every voting round so far, added 19 votes to his Tuesday tally of 118 and comfortably crossed the 120 MPs mark seen as the threshold to confirm a place in the final showdown. Sunak and Truss are now set for their first head-on clash in a live televised debate scheduled on the BBC for Monday.
Earlier, outgoing PM Johnson used his last Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons to bid farewell to the top job with the Spanish phrase “hasta la vista, baby”. In his final speech, he had words of advice for his successor: "Stay close to the Americans, stick up for the Ukrainians, stick up for freedom and democracy everywhere," he said. Sunak's popularity within the Conservative parliamentary party does not seem to chime with the views of the wider membership base, which has shown favour towards his leading opponents. The most recent YouGov survey of 725 Conservative Party members over Monday and Tuesday showed Truss would beat Sunak by 54 per cent to 35 per cent, and Mordaunt would also beat him 51 per cent to 37 per cent.
There is also some concern that Sunak's prospect to replace Johnson could be hit by Conservative Campaign Headquarters' decision to send out those ballot papers early next month before the bulk of the campaign hustings have been held. The focus will now shift towards those hustings as both candidates campaign to woo the Tory voters to cast those ballots in their favour.
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