By Elizabeth Piper, Alistair Smoot and Kylie McClellan
LONDON (Reuters) – Former British finance minister Rishi Sunak maintained his lead among Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, but the two remaining contenders were closing the gap, leaving the race wide open.
In a vote of Conservative Party members of Parliament, former equality minister Kimi Badenouche was eliminated, leaving Sunak, Secretary of State Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt, the trade secretary, as the remaining candidates.
Lawmakers will scrap one more before the ruling party’s 200,000 members choose their new leader, who will automatically become prime minister.
Unlike in 2019, when Johnson was an obvious candidate in the race, the outcome was much more difficult to predict. Opinion polls of party members indicate that Sunak will lose to whoever is chosen to face him.
Since Johnson said he would step down earlier this month after his scandal-ridden government lost support from many Conservatives, the race to replace him has become increasingly intense, with candidates circulating barbs.
Mordaunt came in second and thanked colleagues for their support.
“We’re almost done. I’m excited and excited to present my proposal to members across the country and win,” she said in a statement.
Sunak, Truss and Mordaunt have come up with policy proposals to try to give a boost to their campaigns, in an effort to shift focus away from promises of tax cuts, at a time when the UK’s weak economy is putting more pressure on their finances. for decades.
The three remaining candidates will be keen to bolster their right-wing credentials as they seek support in a party that, according to a 2020 poll, tends to be older, male from southern England and pro-Brexit.
They will vote by mail with the result set for September 5th. A YouGov poll of Conservative members showed that Sunak would lose the run-off against everyone else.
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