London: Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Attorney General Suella Braverman are the two Indian-origin members of Parliament to make the initial shortlist of eight candidates in the race to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister at the close of nominations on Tuesday evening. The others to make it on the ballot paper include Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, former Cabinet ministers Kemi Badenoch and Jeremy Hunt and Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat.
Sunak, who formally launched his campaign earlier, remains the frontrunner in the race with reportedly the highest number of MPs behind him.
“I am running a positive campaign focused on what my leadership can offer our party and our country,” the 42-year-old Conservative leader said at his campaign launch.
The candidates needed the backing of at least 20 MPs to make the first cut and all eight will now face the first round of voting on Wednesday and only those with the backing of at least 30 MPs “or just under 10 per cent of Tory MPs” will progress to round two.
Candidates Sajid Javid and Rehman Chishti out of the PM race
Just as the nominations closed, the two Pakistani-origin hopefuls former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Foreign Office Minister Rehman Chishti had withdrawn from the race, not having met the 20-MP mark.
“There is an abundance of both ideas and talent in our party. One of the candidates will be given the honour of becoming Prime Minister,” said Javid.
A second ballot on Thursday will narrow down the field further as candidates with the least votes keep getting knocked out. There is provision for further ballots next week if the race to get to the final two candidates does not conclude by the end of this week.
The deadline to narrow down the shortlist to just two remaining candidates is July 21, when the 1922 Committee Chair Sir Graham Brady will also seek an assurance that both finalists will remain in the race to face the wider party membership ballot.
The 1922 Committee, in charge of the timetable for the leadership race, has said that the new Tory leader will be announced on September 5 and address their first Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament on September 7.
After the field is whittled down to the final two candidates, the duo will tour parts of the UK for hustings to campaign the estimated 200,000 Tory party members who will then cast postal ballots for the winner based on a one member, one vote system.
The candidate who receives the most votes will win the race and be declared the new Tory leader and UK Prime Minister.