Ex-finance minister Sunak tops first vote to be UK PM

STORY: On Wednesday the United Kingdom inched closer to choosing who will succeed Boris Johnson as their leader.

"Mordaunt 67. Sunak 88..."

In the first round of votes, former finance minister Rishi Sunak won the biggest backing from lawmakers of the ruling Conservative Party.

Sunak's resignation earlier this month helped trigger Johnson's eventual ouster.

In the same vote Wednesday, replacement Nadhim Zahawi and former foreign minister Jeremy Hunt were knocked out of the running.

Whoever wins will face a British economy grappling with rocketing inflation, high debt and low growth, leaving Brits with the tightest squeeze on their finances in decades.

The winner will also have to rebuild public trust bruised by scandals involving Johnson.

"I will be leaving soon with my head held high."

On Tuesday, Sunak offered himself up as a more 'honest' would-be prime minister:

"It is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes."

"And whilst that may be politically inconvenient for me, it is also the truth. As is the fact that once we have gripped inflation, I will get the tax burden down. It is a question of when, not if."

But while Sunak might be the frontrunner among his colleagues, pollster YouGov surveyed nearly 900 Conservative party members and found junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt, who placed second to Sunak on Wednesday, to be the odds-on favourite.

"Low taxes, small stakes, personal responsibility. Yeah, we need to get back to that because we've got some really serious challenges ahead."

"And the British people are fed up. They're fed up with this not delivering. They're fed up with unfulfilled promises and they're fed up with divisive politics.

Six remaining contenders will be whittled down to two in further ballots by next week.

The UK's next prime minister will then be chosen by the 200,000 Conservative party members in the country, before being announced on September 5.

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