Rishi Sunak wins first round of UK leadership vote

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak won the biggest backing from Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday in the first vote to choose who will succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and British prime minister, while two more rivals were eliminated.

Sunak scored 88 votes, ahead of junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt on 67 and foreign Secretary Liz Truss in third position with 50 votes. Lawmaker Kemi Badenoch received 40 votes, Tom Tugendhat received 37 and Suella Braverman received 32.

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and newly appointed finance minister Nadhim Zahawi, were both eliminated after failing to get the required minimum of 30 votes.

Meanwhile, three contenders dropped out of the contest a day before. Those still in the contest will go through second round of voting on Thursday.

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Further rounds of voting will take place until candidates are narrowed to two. The final two candidates will face a runoff vote by about 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country to decide which candidate they want to become the next party leader and prime minister.

The result will be announced on September 5, the winner will automatically become the prime minister, without the need for a national election.

Johnson was forced last week to announce his resignation after a wave of ministerial resignations including finance minister Sunak.

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