Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are the latest candidates in the race for Boris Johnson’s seat as British Prime Minister.

Johnson resigned as party leader earlier this month after a series of scandals led to the resignation of dozens of ministers. Ten Conservatives fought to replace him, and in five ballots, MPs reduced their number to two.

Sunak garnered 137 votes and Truss 113 votes in the final round, with Penny Mordaunt losing with 105 votes.

Both of the last two candidates took to Twitter to comment on the result.

“I am grateful that my colleagues trusted me today. I will work day and night to get our message across the country,” Sunak tweeted.

For her part, Truss tweeted, “Thank you for trusting me. I’m ready to get down to business from day one.”

Now oh 160 000 ordinary members of the party will have their say, and in September the winner and the next prime minister will be announced.

Both candidates, who made it to the bottom two in the Conservative Party leadership contest, had served in Johnson’s government and thus may have been marred by the scandals that led to Johnson’s downfall.

First, Johnson beat his MPs to defend a political ally who was found to have violated lobbying rules, and ended with revelations that Johnson had appointed Chris Pincher, a man who had been accused of several sexual assaults, as his deputy chief whip.

The most notorious scandal was “Partygate,” in which Johnson and several political allies, including Sunak, were fined by police for violating the government’s own Covid-19 restrictions. This made Johnson the first prime minister in history to be found guilty of breaking the law in office.

The task facing the last two candidates is quite difficult: the UK is suffering from a cost-of-living crisis and the Conservative Party is becoming less popular after 12 years in power. And once a new leader comes to power, the opposition Labor Party will be only too happy to remind Johnson’s successor that he was part of that government.

On Wednesday, Johnson attended his final Prime Ministerial meeting in the House of Commons. He boasted about his government’s response to the pandemic and his support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia.

“We helped, I helped, get this country through the pandemic and help save another country from barbarism. And honestly, that’s enough to keep going. Mission largely accomplished,” Johnson said. “I want to thank everyone here and hasta la vista, baby.”

The final round of the race for the lead came amid a record heat wave that sparked wildfires and highlighted the UK’s lack of preparedness for the climate emergency and the need for urgent action to curb carbon emissions.

Here’s what you need to know about the two final candidates:

Sunak served as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022.

Rishi Sunak

Sunak has long been considered a leader. He served as Johnson’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary) from 2020 to 2022 and has received mostly positive public profile since the introduction of popular measures during the coronavirus pandemic, such as a layoff scheme and discounts on restaurant meals.

He recently came under pressure over questions regarding the tax status of his wife, Akshata Murthy, a multi-millionaire based in India.

Some conservatives were concerned that Sunak was having a hard time keeping up with this level and worried that he would not give in under pressure from the premiership.

Despite this, he consistently led the Conservative MPs in the first rounds of voting.

Huge blow to Boris Johnson as two top UK government ministers step down

Polls of Conservative members can be difficult, especially in such tumultuous times, but in those that have been conducted, Sunak has consistently ranked second to Trouss among party members.

Even if he came to power, he would have to overcome criticism from political enemies of all stripes. Opposition leaders would be quick to remind Sunak that he was fined at the same Partygate event as Johnson.

They will also ask why Sunak remained loyal to Johnson for so long, only stepping down after the row with Johnson’s top whip, Chris Pincher.

Things get even worse when you consider Johnson’s supporters, who believe that Sunak’s resignation was the moment when Johnson’s premiership began to crumble.

Thus, although Sunak may be the leader, he will be surrounded by enemies from all sides.

Truss is currently the British Foreign Secretary.

Liz Truss

Truss also has a Johnson association problem. She is still Johnson’s foreign secretary and will serve until he finally leaves office in September. She supported her leader throughout his scandals, justifying the fact that she did not resign over the Pincher scandal because she coordinated the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some may not like this explanation, however, conservatives also largely see Truss as a candidate for Johnson’s sequel. Her top supporters include some of Johnson’s staunchest allies, which could make it difficult to disassociate herself from the current prime minister.

It will also be difficult to distance ourselves from Johnson’s policies. Truss, who voted for the UK to remain in the European Union, became a Brexiteer after the 2016 referendum.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss bids for prime minister

Since Johnson took office, she has been his trade secretary and foreign secretary. Like the first, she resented every trade deal signed as loudly as Johnson, even one that was simply a rollover from the UK’s EU days.

She has also been a vocal supporter of Johnson’s plan to rewrite the controversial part of the Brexit deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Truss has spent most of her time in high office building a power base and she is very popular with MPs and the Conservative grassroots alike.

Sunak and Truss will now spend the summer campaigning among conservative rank and file members before the party announces a winner on Sept. 5.

Following this, Johnson would retire to the Queen, who would then be visited by his successor and invited to form a government.

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