LONDON: Former UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has secured the support of the mandatory 20 Conservative Party members of Parliament for completing his nomination to the post of British prime minister.
Ex-health secretary Matt Hancock backed Sunak as the latter officially began his campaign saying he is ‘‘best-placed’’ to ‘‘take the country through difficult times.’’ Sunak was introduced by Deputy PM Dominic Raab who said in his speech ‘‘we need a leader who can win... he is the only one who can.’’
Candidates have until 6 pm Tuesday night to muster the support of the requisite 20 party MPs to stand in the first round of ballot on Wednesday.
Even those who make it through the first ballot will need 30 MPs out of the 358 to survive into the second round on Thursday. At least the lowest-placed contender will be eliminated in each ballot until two remain. They will then be put to vote by party members in a postal ballot held across the UK in August. The new leader will be announced on September 5, becoming PM the following day.
Priti Patel, the Indian-origin Home Secretary, is believed to have pulled out of the race. She refused to state whom she would support but there were indications that MPs who had been in her group are shifting to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the person who is likely to challenge Sunak.
Sunak -- who only took a few questions from the media -- said his plan was to ‘‘tackle inflation, grow the economy and cut taxes.’’ ‘‘I want to have a grown up conversation where I can tell you the truth,’’ he said.
Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt and new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi were the others in the running to hit the requisite 20-MPs mark.
Also in the running may be Goa-origin Attorney General Suella Braverman, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and former Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Javid's allies say they are still confident of reaching the threshold and denied that he is about to withdraw and back Sunak.