Tory leadership race: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to go head-to-head to be next prime minister

·5-min read
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are the final two candidates in the race to be the next PM
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are the final two candidates in the race to be the next PM

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will go head-to-head in the race to be the next prime minister.

The two Tory hopefuls saw off the challenge of Penny Mordaunt in the final ballot of MPs votes and will now enter a run-off this summer where members of the Conservative Party will decide between the two.

Whoever emerges victorious will be crowned PM by 5 September.

Sunak picked up 137 votes from Tory MPs, Truss was further back with 113 and Mordant was eliminated with 105.

Truss has emerged as the surprise front-runner to win the leadership race this week.

Read more: How the vote works and what date will it end?

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were selected by Tory MPs as the two candidates to battle it out to be prime minister (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were selected by Tory MPs as the two candidates to battle it out to be prime minister (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

While Sunak has been consistently the favourite among Tory MPs, polling released on Tuesday afternoon has revealed that he would lose convincingly to Truss in the run-off among the party membership.

Additional data from poll experts Opinium has also suggested that voters would prefer a Labour government to both of the remaining leadership hopefuls.

According to Opinium, none of the Conservative leadership candidates have won over the public yet, with a Labour government under Keir Starmer leading a Rishi Sunak government by 11 points and Liz Truss by 14 points.

Yahoo News UK looks at who could be next to take up office in Downing Street, what they've said, and what their latest odds are.

(Odds quoted are from William Hill at 11am on 20 July. Please click here to compare the latest odds via Oddschecker)

Who's still in the race?

Liz Truss – 4/7

Liz Truss at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, at King's Buildings, Smith Square, London. Picture date: Thursday July 14, 2022.
Liz Truss has the backing of Brexit ultras Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries. (PA)

Truss is the preferred candidate among the right wing of the Tory party – with the backing of MPs like ultra Brexit and Johnson loyalists Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries.

At her leadership launch, she admitted she did not have a conventional Tory background – as a former Liberal Democrat, republican, and Remainer – but promised to deliver Conservative values while in office.

“I will campaign as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative,” she said. “I am ready to be prime minister from day one.”

Read more: Liz Truss Has A Rather Embarrassing Moment Leaving Her Own Leadership Launch

Among her pledges was a significant change in economic approach - saying she would reverse the planned rises in national insurance.

She has also vowed to increase defence spending by 2030 and strengthen the intelligence services.

She also remains the leading candidate for Conservative Party members, who will have the final say in the head-to-head run-off.

Rishi Sunak – 6/4

Rishi Sunak at the launch of his campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London. Picture date: Tuesday July 12, 2022.
Rishi Sunak at the launch of his campaign to be Conservative Party leader. (PA)

Former chancellor Sunak launched his campaign with a pledge to “restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country”.

Read more: How the vote works and what date will it end?

He has criticised his rivals over their vast and uncosted promises to slash tax. He has also taken particular aim at Truss in recent days.

Sunak became popular during lockdown as the architect of the furlough scheme, which is credited with saving millions of jobs. He was also a supporter of Brexit.

However, in recent months his star has waned following being fined by the police for rule breaking during lockdown, disclosures that his wife had non-dom status for tax purposes, and claims that he was too slow to respond to the cost-of-living crisis.

In his most recent pitch for votes, he has promised harsher sentences for criminals who refuse to attend court for their sentencing hearings and a crackdown on grooming gangs.

In his most recent pitch for votes, he has promised harsher sentences for criminals who refuse to attend court for their sentencing hearings and a crackdown on grooming gangs.

Who's out of the race?

Penny Mordaunt

Despite being a firm favourite with the Tory membership, Mordaunt was unable to compete with Sunak and Truss and fell short in the final ballot of MPs votes.

Kemi Badenoch

The surprise package of the leadership race was eliminated on Tuesday. She emerged as a favourite among Tory members during the contest, but failed to drum up enough support from MP colleagues.

Tom Tugendhat

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee was an outsider with no ministerial experience when he threw his hat in the ring.

His lack of cabinet experience was his main selling point, saying the nation needed a clean break from the sleaze scandals that dominated Johnson's time in charge.

Suella Braverman

The attorney general threw her hat into the ring the day before Johnson had said he was stepping down, saying it would be the "greatest honour" to serve the country in the top job.

Jeremy Hunt

Hunt was eliminated in the first ballot of Tory MPs after 18 backed him, the fewest of all the candidates.

Nadhim Zahawi

The former education secretary also failed to win the backing of enough MPs to bring him through to the second round of voting.

Sajid Javid

Javid pulled out of the leadership race after he failed to secure the support of 20 MPs.

It came after his resignation last week caused chaos in No 10, and his resignation speech in the Commons stuck the knife in further.

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps also pulled out of the leadership race, choosing to back Sunak to become the next prime minister.

Rehman Chishti

Rehman Chishti withdrew from the leadership race after he failed to get the backing of any MPs to allow him to proceed to the next stage.

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