Indian origin Rishi Sunak maintained his lead in the UK prime ministerial race on Wednesday with the highest number of votes at 88 in the first round of voting by Conservative Party MPs, which narrowed down the race from eight to six candidates on the shortlist.
Fellow Indian-origin candidate, Attorney General Suella Braverman, got featured last on the latest tally with 32 votes, behind Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt (67 votes), Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (50 votes), former minister Kemi Badenoch (40 votes) and backbencher Tom Tugendhat (37 votes).
Former Chancellor Sunak, 42, has maintained a steady lead among his Tory parliamentary colleagues since he declared his intention to run for party leadership last week; the Conservative Party membership base, which will have the final say, seems to be building momentum behind Penny Mordaunt.
Sunak, Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law, told the BBC he feels “great” about the result of the first round of voting. At this early stage of the contest, the race seems to be narrowing down into a three-way Sunak, Mordaunt and Liz Truss clash, but the field is still seen as wide open.
The next round of voting by the 358 Conservative members of Parliament to pick their favourites left on the ballot paper is scheduled for Thursday when the field of candidates will be narrowed down even further to a shorter list of finalists.
Under the timetable set by the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, the deadline to whittle down the shortlist to just two remaining candidates is July 21.
The Conservative Party headquarters will then take over the process to organise a series of hustings in different parts of the UK for the final two to pitch their campaign pledges to the estimated 2,00,000 Conservative Party membership.
(Inputs from PTI)