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Rishi Sunak maintains lead in Conservative leadership race with high-profile names out of the race

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Some already believe Sunak is almost certain to become the next UK PM.

After the first round of votes was cast in the campaign to elect a new UK Conservative Party leader, Rishi Sunak continues to dominate the field of candidates, which has narrowed to 6 MPs.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was the second MP to resign in protest of Boris Johnson last week, managed to secure the vote of 88 of the 358 Conservative Party MPs. Prior to the vote, he had the public support of 39 MPs, so he has more than doubled that number.

Sunak has also extended his lead over Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Trade Policy, his closest competitor, with the margin increasing from 15 the day before to 21. Mordaunt successfully defended her position in second place, with 67 votes.

However, not every candidate was as successful. Backbencher Tom Tugendhat managed to secure 37 votes, but this was not enough to retain his third place position, dropping down to fifth on the ladder.

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss won 50 votes, over triple the number of supporters, 15, she had one day earlier. Truss increased her lead over Minister of State for Equalities Kemi Badenoch from 1 to 10, with Badenoch receiving 40 votes.

Suella Braverman, who had been at the tail end of the pack before the MPs met at 1:30pm UK time on Wednesday, has perhaps the best success story of the campaign so far, jumping from 10th place to 6th. The barrister-cum-Attorney General for England and Wales received 32 votes, just 5 behind Tugendhat, overtaking both Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and backbencher Jeremy Hunt. The latter came second in the 2019 leadership race.

To get their name on the ballot paper, each candidate needed to secure the support of 20 MPs. In addition to those 6, 3 others were able to do so: Nadhim Zahawi; Jeremy Hunt; and Sajid Javid. However, just minutes before the names of the candidates were read out to the assembled 358 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons, Sajid Javid pulled out of the race.

Neither Zahawi nor Hunt could win the 30 votes necessary to stay in the race, receiving only 25 and 18 votes, respectively. Hunt received only 18 votes, despite previously reaching the threshold of 20 MPs required to have his name written on the ballot paper.

The MPs who were unable to reach the 20 MP threshold before the vote was held were Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel; Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps; and Rehman Chishti, a parliamentary under-secretary.

You can read the latest on the Conservative leadership race here.

Stuart Jeffery is a freelance researcher & digital editor for 6 News. His views on personal social media pages are his & his only, and do not reflect the views of 6 News or our journalists. He abides by 6 News' editorial standards relating to fairness & accuracy.

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