Race to become UK PM down to Sunak and Truss
London – Former finance minister Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss will battle it out to become Britain’s next prime minister after they won the final lawmaker vote, setting up the last stage of the contest to replace Boris Johnson.
Sunak led in all rounds of the voting among Conservative lawmakers, but it is Truss who seems to have gained the advantage so far among the 200 000 members of the governing party who will ultimately choose the winner.
The final stretch of a weeks-long contest will pit Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker, who raised the tax burden towards the highest level since the 1950s, against Truss, a convert to Brexit, who pledged to cut taxes and regulation.
Whoever triumphs when the result is announced on September 5 will inherit some of the most difficult conditions in Britain in decades.
Inflation is on course to hit 11% annually, growth is stalling, industrial action is on the rise, and the pound is near historic lows against the dollar.
Britain, under Johnson, and aided by Truss, also took a hard line against Brussels in its post-Brexit negotiations around Northern Ireland, drawing legal action from the European Union and threatening future trade ties.
Initially, 11 candidates put their names forward, but in a fifth and final ballot of Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday, the junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt was eliminated.
Sunak won 137 votes vs 113 for Truss and 105 for Mordaunt.
Polls show Truss will beat Sunak in the party members’ contest, opening up the chance that the party elects a leader who was not the most popular choice for lawmakers at Westminster.
Truss thanked her supporters: “I’m ready to hit the ground from day one,” she said on Twitter.
Sunak said on Twitter: “Grateful that my colleagues have put their trust in me … I will work night and day to deliver our message around the country.”
Mordaunt, who was only eight votes behind second-placed Truss, called on the party to unite after an often ugly leadership contest so far.
“Politics isn’t easy,” she said in a statement. “It can be a divisive and difficult place. We must all now work together to unify our party and focus on the job that needs to be done.”
The two finalists will now start weeks of hustings up and down the country before the party’s membership.