Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are the two final candidates in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Conservative party members of the House of Commons voted in the fourth round of their leadership contest, which saw Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt eliminated in the third place.
The action now shifts to the party’s base of nearly 2,00,000 primary members who will now vote to choose their next leader. The final two candidates will face a ballot of party members and the one who gets the maximum votes wins. The outcome will be announced on Sept. 5.
Sunak, former chancellor of the exchequer, has been the frontrunner so far in the four rounds of voting among party MPs. He quit the cabinet in early July, minutes after the resignation of Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Those resignations set in motion a domino effect of over 50 ministers quitting the government, which sealed the fate of Johnson’s leadership.
But, is Sunak the favourite to win the race? That’s not certain. While he got the backing of a plurality of Tory MPs, he still has to win the support of Conservative party members in this upcoming final round.
Sunak is not a favourite here. A YouGov poll before the second-last round showed that he would lose to any of his three remaining rivals among Tory members in a final two-way vote.
Sunak has faced criticism over the non-domicile status of his wife Akshata Murthy, daughter of Infosys Ltd.’s co-founder NR Narayana Murthy. Earlier this year, she voluntarily relinquished her legal non-domicile status to pay taxes on income from Infosys shares.
The former chancellor is the only contender who has backed fiscal restraint, even as his rivals have promised to cut taxes as Britons—after having endured hardships during Covid-19 lockdowns—face record inflation.