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Rishi Sunak Will Become Prime Minister After Penny Mordaunt Drops Out Of Leadership Race

Rishi Sunak Will Become Prime Minister After Penny Mordaunt Drops Out Of Leadership Race

Rishi Sunak will become the UK's next Prime Minister

5 min read

Rishi Sunak will become the UK’s next Prime Minister after Penny Mordaunt dropped out the Conservative leadership race to replace Liz Truss.

Because the former Chancellor is now the only leadership candidate with a sufficient number of backers to make it onto the ballot, he has now won the contest unopposed and will not face an online ballot of the Conservative membership.

Announcing her decision to drop out of the race, Mordaunt said: “These are unprecedented times. Despite the compressed timetable for the leadership contest it is clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today.

"They have taken this decision in good faith for the good of the country."

Acknowleding that party members will now be denied a vote on the new leader, she said the process had been "fairly and thoroughly tested by the agreed 1922 process".

She added: "I am proud of the campaign we ran and grateful to all those, across all sides of our party, who gave me their backing.

"We all owe it to the country, to each other and to Rishi to unite and work together for the good of the nation. There is much work to be done."

Her decision to end her campaign just moments before the official announcement by Graham Brady, chair of the party's ruling 1922 Committee, which organised the leadership contest.

Addressing MPs, Brady said: "I can confirm that one valid nomination has been received, and that Rishi Sunak is therefore elected as leader of the Conservative Party."

Sunak had won support from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Grant Shapps as well as a number of influential figures on the right of the party, including Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and former Home Secretaries Suella Braverman and Priti Patel. 

He also secured the backing of former Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith, who tweeted ahead of the ballot saying it was "time for us to end the leadership contest and get a Prime Minister in place ASAP".

He added: "I have reached the decision that senior experience at the heart of government matters most. To that end I shall support Rishi Sunak."

Mordaunt dropped out on Monday after struggling to persuade her colleagues to put her up against Sunak in a vote. 

A supporter of Mordaunt estimated she had secured the support of 90 MPs ahead of the 2pm deadline, leaving her ten short of the threshold required to make the ballot.

On Sunday night former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was widely expected to launch a bid to take another run at the top job, announced that he would not be entering the race, despite claiming he had secured the support of 102 MPs. 

Fewer than 70 MPs had publicly announced their support for the ex-PM. 

Johnson had said he believed he was "well placed" to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 and said he had cleared the "very high hurdle of 102 nominations".

But he said he would not be formally entering the race because he had "sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can't govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament".Side-by-side of Rishi Sunak and Penny MordauntSunak will take office less than two months after losing the summer's leadership contest to Liz Truss having secured 43% of the vote among Conservative members, and three months since he resigned from his role as Chancellor as Boris Johnson's leadership crumbled. 

Truss resigned on Thursday after just 45 days in office having u-turned on almost all of her policy agenda after the catastrophic "mini-Budget" contributed to soaring interest rates and sinking the value of the pound. 

The new PM is likely to face pressure from opposition MPs to call an early general election after months of turmoil in Downing Street, with Labour leader Keir Starmer saying voters deserved a break from the "chaos" of another Conservative leader. The government is currently not required to go to the polls until the end of 2024.

"I think a change at the top of the Tory party is not what we need. We need a general election so people can choose," Starmer told on Monday.

Rishi Sunak outside his homeSeveral prominent pro-Johnson figures in the Conservative Party have also claimed an early general election was needed, with Conservative MP Nadine Dorries saying it would be "impossible" to avoid one because only Johnson has a mandate from the electorate, after he won an 80 seat majority in 2019.

"Boris would have won members' vote – already had a mandate from the people," Dorries tweeted after Johnson confirmed he would not join the race. 

"Rishi and Penny, despite requests from Boris refused to unite which would have made governing utterly impossible.

"Penny [Mordaunt] actually asked him to step aside for her. It will now be impossible to avoid a [general election]."

Lord Goldsmith, the former Conservative MP for Richmond, who is a close ally of Johnson, said it would be "morally unavoidable".

"I don’t see how we can have a 3rd new Prime Minister – and a policy programme that is miles away from the original manifesto – without going to the country," he tweeted.

"Conservative MPs understandably won’t want to and are legally not obliged to, but it will be morally unavoidable."

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