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Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt PA
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Sunak collects 100 Tory nominations as Mordaunt announces bid and three ministers back Johnson

Who will emerge as the top candidate to be the UK’s next prime minister?

LAST UPDATE | 21 Oct 2022

RISHI SUNAK HAS reportedly reached the necessary level of support from MPs to be nominated as a candidate to be the UK’s next prime minister.

Sunak, who ran against outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss for the position this summer, has hit the 100-nomination threshold to make it to the next stage of the Tory leadership contest, according to a campaign source.

Earlier today, Penny Mordaunt, who also ran in the summer, became the first Tory MP to announce that she was seeking to replace Liz Truss.

Mordaunt, the current Leader of the House of Commons, said in a tweet: “I’ve been encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest.

“I’m running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister – to unite our country, deliver our pledges and win the next GE.”

Meanwhile Boris Johnson, who was forced to stand down after a flurry of resignations by ministers, has also been floated as a potential contender

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace threw his his weight behind Johnson to succeed Truss after ruling himself out of the Tory leadership race.

Pointing to Johnson’s record on defence spending and citing the mandate he achieved in 2019, the Cabinet minister said it was important to think about “who could win the next election” for the Conservatives.

Tories have begun to declare their allegiances in the party’s second leadership contest in just four months, as speculation mounts over who will seek to replace Truss at the helm of the party.

Supporters of Johnson are backing the former prime minister to make an extraordinary political comeback while Sunak and Mordaunt also have the public support of several MPs.

Sunak did not answer questions from reporters this morning as he left his home.

A Boris Johnson-supporting MP told PA that the former prime minister told him he is “up for it” and will fly back to the UK from his Caribbean holiday to stand in the Tory leadership contest.

James Duddridge said: “I’ve been in contact with the boss via WhatsApp.

“He’s going to fly back. He said, ‘I’m flying back, Dudders, we are going to do this. I’m up for it’.”

But veteran backbencher Roger Gale, a long-time critic of Johnson, has warned that if the former PM succeeds he could be met with a wave of resignations by Tory MPs.

Wallace argued that without national security there is “no economic security”, and said he believes it is “important” that whoever puts themselves forward for the top job indicates that.

But he said he also has to “recognise the issue of the mandate”.

“This will be potentially our third prime minister since the general election of 2019, that means we have to think about that legitimacy question that the public will be asking themselves, and also about who could win the next election – that’s obviously important for any political party at the time,” he told broadcasters.

“So at the moment, I would lean towards Boris Johnson. I think he will still have some questions to answer around, obviously, that investigation, but I know when I was Secretary of State for Defence, he invested in defence, he supported me, he supported the actions this country has taken to keep us safe.”

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