Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak received the most votes in the first round to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.
Meanwhile, former cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt and current chancellor Nadhim Zahawi were eliminated from the Tory leadership race after the first round of voting. They each didn’t get the 30 votes needed to make it to the next stage.
Mr Zahawi, who was appointed to the role by Mr Johnson last week after Mr Sunak stepped down, received 25 votes.
The front runners in the race, Mr Sunak and Secretary of State Liz Truss and Secretary of Commerce Penny Mordaunt, won their bid to be the next Prime Minister.
Senior backbencher Tom Tugendhat, Attorney General Suella Braverman and former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch were also among the final six candidates.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Conservative Committee that oversaw the contest, read the results to a packed Committee Room 14 in the House of Commons.
The findings come as Downing Street denied running an anti-Sunak smear campaign as Johnson’s allies slammed the former chancellor in an increasingly acrimonious leadership contest.
The caretaker prime minister’s press secretary on Wednesday insisted Mr Johnson “remain neutral” despite his remaining loyalists throwing their support behind Ms Truss.
Mr Sunak, currently receiving the most public statement of support from Tory MPs, has faced claims from the Foreign Secretary’s supporters that he had implemented “economically damaging” policies.
They have also attacked his campaign with claims it used “dirty tricks” to rig the Tory leadership race that will pick the next Prime Minister.
Asked if No. 10 is involved in a “stop Sunak” operation ahead of the conclusion of Wednesday’s first round of voting, Mr Johnson’s press secretary said: “No.”
She declined to say whether Downing Street continues to support the former Chancellor, whose resignation helped end Mr Johnson’s hold on No 10.
The press secretary said she did not know whether Mr Johnson spoke to Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg about supporting Ms Truss before they made their public statement at Downing Street.
“He remains neutral in this competition,” said the spokeswoman.
Mr Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, and Ms Dorries, the culture secretary, backed Ms Truss shortly after leaving a cabinet meeting with Mr Johnson.
On Wednesday, Mr Rees-Mogg went on to argue that the Foreign Secretary, unlike Mr Sunak, was “fiscally on the right side of the argument”.
He told Sky News that Ms Truss “was opposed to the ex-Chancellor’s endless tax hikes, which I thought were economically damaging, I was opposed in Cabinet too”.
He added, “I think it’s important to have someone on the right side of tax, who doesn’t think that higher taxation is the right answer to every question.”
He also said Ms Truss – who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum – was more willing to use Brexit than Mr Sunak, who voted Leave.
Mr Rees-Mogg claimed she was “more in favor of abolishing the supremacy of EU law and having a sunset over EU law” than Mr Sunak’s Treasury Department.
“I think you have to judge people by what they’re doing right now,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/rishi-sunak-wins-first-round-of-tory-leadership-race-as-jeremy-hunt-and-nadhim-zahawi-eliminated-41837880.html Rishi Sunak wins first round of Tory leadership race as Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi are eliminated