Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt have consolidated themselves as the top two frontrunners for the Tory leadership race as Suella Braverman drops out in the second vote.
Sunak picked up 101 votes from his fellow Tory MPs, while Mordaunt picked up 83 and foreign secretary Liz Truss remained in third place on 64.
Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat are the other two candidates remaining in the race, after getting 49 and 32 votes respectively.
The results revealed little new from yesterday, after Sunak, Mordaunt and Truss finished in the top three places in the first vote.
Mordaunt shot into favouritism to be next Prime Minister yesterday with bookmakers, after finishing a strong second in the first vote and after a YouGov poll of Conservative members showed she had commanding leads over every other candidate.
In today’s vote Mordaunt closed the gap on Sunak further and will have the momentum going into tomorrow’s leadership debate on Channel 4.
Mordaunt and Sunak will both now try to siphon the votes of Tugendhat, a Remainer centrist, after he went backwards in the most recent vote.
A spokesperson for Sunak said: “This is a very solid result for Rishi. But we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Mordaunt’s rise from junior trade minister to leadership favourite has led to a series of media attacks on her from anonymous sources last night and this morning from opposition camps.
Former senior minister Lord David Frost this morning said Mordaunt was not up to the job of Prime Minister, while also revealing that he asked Boris Johnson last year to sack her as his deputy in the Cabinet Office.
He said: “She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary and I’m afraid she wasn’t sort of fully accountable, she wasn’t always visible, and I’m afraid sometimes I didn’t even know where she was, and I’m afraid this became such a problem that after six months I had to ask the prime minister to move her on and find somebody else to support me.”
In a thinly veiled swipe at Mordaunt, close ally of Truss told City A.M. that “it’s not a contest to be leader of the opposition or a gig at a think tank … it’s about driving the machinery of government and we’ve all seen Liz do that”.
There will be further votes from Monday in order to whittle down the remaining candidates to a final two contenders.
They will then face off in a six-week contest to win the votes of the party’s 200,000 rank-and-file members.
Truss and Badenoch, both running from the right, will vie for the votes of Braverman now she is out of the contest.
The foreign secretary launched her campaign this morning and focused on her record in defending Ukraine, a promise to continue Johnson’s levelling up agenda and confirmation that she would cut taxes if made Prime Minister.
Truss said she would be “ready to be Prime Minister from day one” in an apparent attack on Mordaunt, while also vowing to “level with the British public” on the country’s poor economic outlook.
“Our economy won’t get back on track overnight, times are going be tough, but I know I can get us on an upward trajectory by 2024,” she said.
Badenoch has been the surprise packet of the race, after it was initially expected that she would be out in the early rounds.