MP for New Forest West Desmond Swayne backs leadership frontrunner Rishi Sunak
NEW Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne has revealed he is backing former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who will go head to head with foreign secretary Liz Truss in the battle to replace Boris Johnson.
Mr Sunak has consistently topped the shortlist since voting began last week, and was backed in today's final ballot by 137 MPS, of a total 357.
He now faces foreign secretary Liz Truss – who secured 113 votes – in the final stage of the leadership battle.
Trade minister Penny Mordaunt, with just 105 backers, was eliminated this afternoon (Wednesday).
The two candidates are set to take part in a series of husting events around the country where they will be questioned over their policies.
At the end of the process, Conservative party members will select who they want to be PM in a postal vote.
Under the current rules, the country will know who the new PM will be by 5th September at the latest, with the result being announced by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.
If one of the final two candidates drops out over the coming weeks and is not replaced, there would be no postal vote among party members.
Of the eight candidates who entered the race, the six that were knocked out were former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat, Attorney General Suella Braverman, chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and, most recently, trade minister Penny Mordaunt.