Race for UK PM: Who are the contenders and who is winning?

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After the fourth round of voting ends, Rishi Sunak has come closer to becoming one of the two final candidates, standing just one vote short of the magic 120-mark. Aside from Sunak, however, none of the remaining two contenders can rest assured about their future.

After Boris Johnson stepped down as Tory leader and the UK Prime Minister last week following waves of ministerial resignation, an intense political contest to become the next prime minister was triggered. Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson would still remain in office as a caretaker Prime Minister until his successor is announced.

Rishi Sunak is coming closer to the finale

According to CNBC, former chancellor Rishi Sunak is still holding on to his lead after the fourth vote on Tuesday ended. The race to replace Boris Johnson as PM narrowed to three candidates after Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch dropped out of the game.

The final two candidates, who will go head-to-head to compete for the hot seat in Downing Street, will be chosen by Sir Graham Brady and the governing Conservative Party's 358 lawmakers this week. Boris Johnson's replacement will then be announced on September 5, after the Conservative Party’s 200,000 members cast postal ballots over the summer.

Race for UK PM: Who are the contenders and who is winning? Bloomberg

As noted by Reuters, in the fourth round of voting, Rishi Sunak received 118 votes from his party colleagues, standing only two votes short of the mathematically safe 120-benchmark - or one-third of Conservative Party Members of Parliament (MPs). However, Sunak actually needs one more vote to secure his place as one of the final contenders with Tobias Ellwood banned from taking part in the race.

The Guardian writes that Sunak, 42, has been the unwavering frontrunner in the race. In the third round of voting on Monday, Sunak led, followed by former defense minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. In the same round, Tugendhat was dumped, prompting his supporters to allocate their votes to the remaining three in Tuesday's voting. Among Sunak's 118 votes so far, he picked up three of Tugendhat's released votes, while Mordaunt got 10, Truss 15, and Badenoch 1. While his vote pick-up is slowing down significantly, Sunak is bound to become one of the two finalists by tomorrow, writes BBC.

Rishi Sunak has been praised for his economic support schemes

Prior to Boris Johnson's resignation two weeks ago, Rishi Sunak resigned as chancellor and fueled the unstoppable wave of ministerial resignation and eventually the collapse of Johnson.

Race for UK PM: Who are the contenders and who is winning? Bloomberg

Sunak has been gaining momentum in the election thanks to his emphatic moves to introduce rescue packages during the 18 months of lockdowns. As the UK's economy was crippled with spiraling inflation, aggravated by high debt and low growth, Sunak quickly introduced support schemes worth billions of pounds to keep jobs and businesses afloat and avert mass unemployment. The former Treasury chief is also famous for his adamance to prioritize curbing inflation, forecast to hit 11% later this year, before implementing any tax cut.

On social causes, Sunak also promised to revere 'recent trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language' and a 'better, smaller, 21st-century government' when it comes to governance issues.

However, Sunak also came under fire for myriad issues, including not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wife's wealth, and the fine he received for joining the Partygate event during the Covid lockdown.

Truss is Sunak's most likely opponent

Despite still six votes behind Mordaunt, Liz Truss is more likely to be the final candidate facing Rishi Sunak. The 46-year-old Foreign Secretary has been gaining momentum and is expected to win support from the eliminated Badenoch’s supporters in the next round of voting.

Race for UK PM: Who are the contenders and who is winning? Bloomberg

Truss, now the second favorite, is different from Sunak in that she has been trying to lower taxes, claiming she would propel the U.K economy on an 'upward trajectory' by 2024. However, her effort to encourage government intervention in monetary policy also came under fire, with top Bank of England official Michael Saunders saying Britain's monetary policy should be best left untouched.

Meanwhile, Mordaunt is anticipated to fall out of the race. The 49-year-old supporter of Brexit gave the most neutral promise and a balance between Sunak and Truss' differing views, claiming she would aim to deliver the benefits of Brexit and recover from recent economic shocks.

With the results of the next ballot due on Wednesday, Truss and Mordaunt's bitter race to be one of the two finalists, alongside Sunak, will hopefully come to an end.

Read more:

Boris Johnson agreed to step down as UK PM after mass ministerial resignation

From Brexit to resignation: The timeline of Boris Johnson's turbulent career

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