The five remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership race are preparing to face off in live televised debates.
It comes after Rishi Sunak came out on top in yesterday’s poll of Tory MPs – with Penny Mordaunt second and Liz Truss third.
Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat are also still in contention, but Suella Braverman was eliminated.
The leadership rivals will face off in a live program on Channel 4 later, with another on Sunday.
And Sky News will host a debate on Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. – after more candidates have been knocked out in further rounds of voting in Westminster.
The final two leadership candidates will emerge by the end of next week and then face a summer of jostling – with Conservative Party members given the chance to decide who should become the next prime minister.
A winner will be announced on September 5.
Here’s a look at the results of yesterday’s vote among Tory MPs – including the number of supporters for each candidate:
Braverman supports Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is hoping to attract additional support from the conservative right following the elimination of Attorney General Suella Braverman.
And last night Ms Truss got her endorsement – with Ms Braverman saying she would be ‘the strong guardian of Brexit promises’.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost also called on Ms Badenoch to step down for Foreign Secretary, calling for “unity among free marketers”.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who fell on the first ballot, pledged his support to Mr. Sunak.
But Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who was also sent off in the first round, has yet to pin his colors to any mast.
The candidates thank their supporters
Reacting to receiving the most votes for the second time, Mr Sunak said he was “incredibly grateful” for the support from Tory MPs.
He tweeted: “I am ready to give everything I have in the service of our nation. Together we can restore confidence, rebuild our economy and reunite the country.”
Meanwhile, Ms Truss’ election team said: ‘Now is the time for MPs to unite behind the candidate who will cut taxes, deliver the real economic change we need, continue to deliver the benefits of Brexit and make Putin lose in Ukraine.”
Ms Mordaunt tweeted another thank you video to her followers, saying: ‘Together we will make a real difference.’
And Ms Badenoch said she was ‘delighted that a growing number of my colleagues have confidence in my vision of a return to honest politics and Conservative principles’.
Mr Tugendhat insisted he would not withdraw from the contest despite losing five votes since the first round, tweeting: “I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t foresee not start now.”
Labor calls for general elections
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said a general election was needed to ensure “fundamental change”.
“I don’t think the answer to the stagnation of the past 12 years is to change the candidate or the leader of the Conservative party,” he told reporters.
The leadership contest was called after Boris Johnson announced his resignation last Thursday.
His announcement follows an avalanche of resigning ministers on his handling of disgraced MP Chris Pincherand accusations that he lied about what he knew of the former Deputy Chief Whip’s inappropriate behavior.
Mr Johnson remains at number 10 as caretaker prime minister while the contest runs.
Labor has been pushing for the prime minister to leave immediately, trying to call for a vote of confidence in him and the government.
In place, the government has called for a vote of confidence in itselfallowing him to define the wording to facilitate the favorable vote of the conservative detractors of Mr Johnson.
Sky News is hosting a live TV debate with the candidates vying to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore Prime Minister, and you could be in the virtual audience.
The debate will take place on Tuesday July 19 at 8 p.m.
If you would like to be part of the virtual hearing and have the opportunity to ask a question, please email NewsDebates@sky.uk.
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