Rishi Sunak tops second round in race to become UK PM

London: Conservative Party lawmakers in Britain on Thursday knocked one of the six remaining contenders out of the contest to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as front-runner Rishi Sunak worked to stave off momentum from surprise challenger Penny Mordaunt.

Sunak, who quit as Britain’s Treasury chief last week, got the most votes, 101, with junior trade minister Mordaunt a strong second with 83. Bookmaker Ladbrokes said Mordaunt was now the favorite to win the leadership election, followed by Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who got 64 votes.

Attorney General Suella Braverman secured the fewest votes from her colleagues, 27, and was eliminated from the race, leaving five contenders. Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, a rising star of the party’s libertarian right, and centrist backbench lawmaker Tom Tugendhat remain in the race — though Tugendhat got just 32 votes and is under pressure to drop out.

Further rounds of voting by the 358 Tory lawmakers will take place starting Monday until just two candidates remain. The final two contenders will face a runoff vote by about 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country. The winner is scheduled to be announced on Sept. 5 and will automatically become prime minister, without the need for a national election.

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