A new prime minister is expected to have been selected by the end of the week following Liz Truss’s resignation after less than two months in the job.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt have emerged as the main contenders in the Tory leadership contest.
However, candidates need a minimum of 100 colleagues to nominate them by Monday to make it onto the ballot paper for the parliamentary stage of the election process.
This means that there can only be a maximum of three candidates put to MPs. If only one candidate receives more than 100 nominations, then they will automatically win.
The first MPs vote will be held between 3.30pm to 5.30pm on Monday.
Here are the runners and riders:
– Rishi Sunak
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak heads into the race this week confident that he has the backing of enough MPs to make it onto the ballot paper.
He was defeated just seven weeks ago in the last Tory leadership race as the party membership picked rival Liz Truss, garnering 60,399 votes to her 81,326.
In that contest, he positioned himself as the candidate prepared to tell hard truths about the state of the public finances rather than “comforting fairy tales”.
He remained resolute in the view that his rival’s promises of unfunded tax cuts at a time of worsening inflation were irresponsible, dangerous and un-Conservative, predicting that they would lead to surging mortgage rates.
After Ms Truss took office, her disastrous mini-budget triggered turbulence in the financial markets and forced the Bank of England to intervene, proving Mr Sunak right.
He kept a low profile as the chaos continued, staying away from the annual Tory conference, which was overshadowed by a U-turn on a flagship policy to scrap the 45p rate of income tax.
Accusations in the last leadership race that he represented “Treasury orthodoxy” and a “gloomster” mentality could speak in his favour this time, as many will be reassured by his undoubted experience in handling the economy and his realist approach.
The ex-chancellor gathered a string of endorsements from MPs before declaring he would run, with backers highlighting his “calm competence” and portraying him as a “serious person for serious times”.
– Penny Mordaunt
Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt will need to receive a tidal wave of support to reach the requisite 100 nominations on Monday.
She finished third in the last leadership election, failing to receive enough backing from MPs to qualify for the membership vote.
She opted to back Ms Truss, and was rewarded with a role in the new Cabinet, taking up the reins as Commons Leader.
Her initial bid for the top job triggered some excitement, as colleagues rallied behind a fresh face to lead the Conservatives.
But her dearth of ministerial experience at that stage became a weakness that her rivals sought to exploit, even if she appeared to remain a popular choice among the party membership.
She will now be able to cite her tenure as Commons Leader – albeit short-lived – as she sets her sights on Downing Street once more.
Ms Mordaunt will inevitably be tied to the Truss premiership to some extent, as she served in the Cabinet during the PM’s tumultuous period, which saw market chaos at one stage threaten to trigger a financial crisis in the UK.
However, she has hardly been conspicuous in her loyalty, making it clear she believed benefits should rise in line with inflation at the Tory conference earlier this month, despite Ms Truss repeatedly refusing to guarantee the boost.
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