Former finance minister Rishi Sunak came out on top in the latest round of voting Thursday by Conservative MPs to decide Britain’s next prime minister, followed by bookmaker favourite Penny Mordaunt.
Mordaunt earlier came under blistering attack after she surged in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, as another long-shot candidate for leader was eliminated.
The little-known Mordaunt, a committed Brexiteer who was briefly Britain’s first woman defence secretary before she was demoted to less senior roles, has emerged as the darling of Tory grassroots members.
In the second round of voting by Conservative MPs, the Royal Navy reservist again came a strong second with 83 votes, behind former finance minister Sunak with 101.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss—the favoured candidate of Johnson loyalists—was third with 64, after formally launching her campaign with vows of tax cuts and a smaller state.
Promising “an aspiration nation”, Truss said she would be ready “from day one” to fix the enfeebled UK economy and take on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.
Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated from the race after coming last, with the five remaining candidates proceeding to the next round of voting by Tory MPs on Monday.