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Next UK PM: Johnson out of contention, leaving two candidates

British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced last Thursday she would step down. Former prime minister, Boris Johnson, had been a leading potential candidate to replace Ms Truss but pulled out of the contest on Sunday, saying in a statement “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

His departure from the race leaves two candidates in the running to become the fifth British premier in six years:

Rishi Sunak
Britain’s former finance minister was the most popular candidate among Conservative lawmakers at Westminster but, after getting through to a run-off against Ms Truss, he lost out in a vote involving some 172,000 party members who make the final decision.

Many members were angry when Mr Sunak quit in July, helping to trigger a rebellion that eventually brought down Mr Johnson. They also ignored his warning that markets could lose confidence in Britain if Ms Truss delivered her unfunded tax cuts.

Bookmakers have Mr Sunak as the favourite to replace Ms Truss, but those lawmakers who remain loyal to Johnson would likely oppose that move.

Penny Mordaunt
A former defence secretary, Ms Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the EU who only just missed out on the final two-place run off in the recent leadership challenge.

Ms Mordaunt won plaudits for her performance in parliament on Monday, when she defended the government even as it reversed most of its policies.

One lawmaker has described Ms Mordaunt as having “broad appeal”, referring to her ability to find friends in the various tribes of the party.

How the leader is chosen

Nominations for next Conservative Party leader and PM will close at 14:00 BST on Monday, October 24.

Candidates require the support of at least 100 Tory MPs. As there are currently 357 Tory MPs, a maximum of three candidates can be put forward.

If only one candidate gets the support of 100 MPs they will become the next leader. They will also become the new prime minister.

If two candidates remain at the end of the ballots – because no-one withdraws after the indicative vote – the members of the Conservative Party will decide on the next leader and prime minister.

They will take part in an online vote to decide the winner. Before the vote among party members closes, it is hoped the two candidates would take part in a television debate.

Although Mr Sunak is the bookmakers favourite he will likely need to do so without a membership vote, who have previously not been keen on him.

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