Rishi Sunak is in pole position for the premiership this morning, having already secured well over the 100 nominations required to stand in the leadership contest.
With 191 declared backers, Sunak commands the support of half of the Tory party, while Penny Mordaunt’s campaign team claims she has 90 backers, although only 28 have declared.
The recently resurrected Boris Johnson pulled out of the contest late last night, saying “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”
In his statement, Johnson also claimed – in the absence of any evidence – to have secured 102 supporters, enough to run in the election.
Following Johnson’s withdrawal, the pound rallied as the markets opened this morning, with the value of sterling rising by 0.3 per cent against the dollar, and reaching $1.1336 at open, whilst also rising by 0.6 per cent against the Euro.
As the 2pm deadline to reach 100 supporters draws ever closer, the odds certainly appear in Sunak’s favour. If Mordaunt is unable to reach the threshold, then we’ll have a new prime minister by this afternoon.
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However, Mordaunt appears unwilling to go down without a fight. Key Mordaunt supporter Andrea Leadsom (who ran for leadership in 2016) has said there is “absolutely no chance” of Mordaunt stepping down.
Mordaunt will no doubt be banking on securing many of the MPs who stood behind Johnson, with many blaming Sunak for bringing down the former PM in July.
If Mordaunt wins enough support, the decision will go to the party membership. And while one recent poll shows Sunak with more support from the Tory members, Mordaunt has proved a popular candidate in the past.