Two contenders forced out of Tory leadership race — Analysis

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt have not received enough votes to advance in the Conservative Party’s ongoing leadership race. Rishi Sunak is the only remaining candidate in contention.

On Wednesday, Tory MPs voted for a new leader in their first round. Sir Graham Brady from the Conservative 1922 Committee announced the results.

Hunt and Zahawi secured only 25 votes each, while Hunt received 18 votes. They were therefore placed in the second and third places respectively amongst the eight candidates. It ended their hopes of becoming prime Minister.

Zahawi is the current chancellor at Exchequer, following a cabinet restructuring earlier in this month. He had previously promised that he would cut taxes and reduce energy bills if elected PM. Hunt was the foreign secretary from 2018 to 2019, and ran for party leadership in 2019. He finished second behind Boris Johnson. While Hunt had made similar promises about tax cuts and both men promised an increase in military expenditures, he was second to Boris Johnson.

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Sunak won the first round, with the support of 88 MPs. Sunak has pitched himself as a voice of fiscal prudence and the best equipped to steer Britain’s economy through the headwinds it currently faces. He is, however, like Hunt and Zahawi, an advocate for higher military spending.

While Sunak resigned from Johnson’s cabinet earlier this month – handing his duties as chancellor over to Zahawi – he has been implicated in some of the same scandals as his former boss, and was fined by London’s Metropolitan Police in April for breaching his government’s own Covid-19 lockdown laws. 

Second and third are Penny Mordaunt (junior trade minister) and Liz Truss (foreign secretary), with respective 67 and 50 votes. Both Truss and Mordaunt are prominent Brexiteers. Truss, however, has been one the most vocal anti-Russian voices in Europe ever since February’s conflict in Ukraine. Truss also promised in an op-ed in recent newspapers to inflict “severe” on Russia. “real pain on Putin and the Kremlin”If elected.

Six candidates remain in the race and will face subsequent rounds of voting, with one candidate eliminated each round. The postal vote that includes all members of the Conservative Party will elect a leader when there are only two remaining candidates. Johnson, despite his resignation as party leader last week will still be prime minister until his successor.

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