London: Former finance minister Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss will contest 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 has been ahead in every round of voting among Conservative legislators, but among the 200,000 members of the ruling party, who will finally decide the winner, Truss appears to be gaining the upper hand.
Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker who increased taxes to their highest level since the 1950s, will square off against Truss, a convert to Brexit who has promised to reduce taxes and regulations, in the final round of a weeks-long campaign.
Whoever win when the results are announced on September 5 will inherit some of the most challenging circumstances in Britain in decades. The pound is trading around historic lows versus the dollar, industrial action is on the rise, and inflation is on track to reach 11 percent annually.
In its post-Brexit negotiations regarding Northern Ireland, Britain under Johnson and aided by Truss also adopted a tough stance on Brussels, drawing legal action from the EU and jeopardising future economic ties.
There were originally eleven candidates, but on Wednesday, junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt was voted off in the fifth and final round of voting by Conservative legislators. Truss received 113 votes, Mordaunt received 105, and Sunak received 137.
According to polls, Truss would defeat Sunak in a contest among party members, increasing the likelihood that the party would nominate a leader who was not the Westminster legislators’ top pick.
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 today. I will work night and day to deliver our message around the country.”
Mordaunt, who finished second to Truss by just eight votes, urged party unity in the wake of the often divisive leadership race.
“Politics isn’t easy. It can be a divisive and difficult place,” she said in a statement. “We must all now work together to unify our party and focus on the job that needs to be done.”