Poll shows Rishi Sunak would lose leadership contest in final members’ vote
Sunak is nearly certain to make the top two. Conservative leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
RISHI SUNAK, frontrunner in the contest to become Britain’s next prime minister, would lose to any of his remaining opponents if he makes it through to the final stage of the contest when rank and file party members get to vote, polling showed on Tuesday (19).
The YouGov poll of Conservative Party members showed Sunak would lose a runoff vote against either Kemi Badenoch, Liz Truss or Penny Mordaunt. The polling was published by Sky News.
The race to replace British prime minister Boris Johnson heated up on Tuesday, with four contenders offering more policies to try to climb to the top two in a divisive leadership contest that is splitting the governing Conservative Party.
Four candidates remain, with one to be axed after a vote later on Tuesday. Sunak’s allies say his lead all but assures him of a place in the top two who will then court the party’s membership to be appointed the next prime minister in September.
But foreign secretary Liz Truss is closing the gap with second-placed Penny Mordaunt, a junior trade minister, and the rankings can change as Conservative lawmakers whose candidates have been ousted decide where to place their votes.
Both Sunak, Truss and Mordaunt presented policy offerings to try to add momentum to their campaigns, trying to move the focus away from pledges on tax cuts, at a time when Britain’s flagging economy has left people with the tightest squeeze on their finances for decades.
Sunak, whose resignation as finance minister helped trigger the downfall of Johnson, said he would implement harsher sentences for criminals who fail to attend court and would crackdown on grooming gangs if he became prime minister.
“It will be my top priority in government to keep the British public safe – and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen,” he said in a statement.
Truss, who has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, repeated her commitment to increase defence spending up to 3% of gross domestic product by 2030.
“We live in an increasingly dangerous world where the threat level is higher than a decade ago, and we need a stronger deterrent to face down those threats and ensure Britain leads on the global stage,” she said.
“My number one priority is keeping this country safe and people can trust me to do that.”
Mordaunt, a junior trade minister, also committed to Johnson’s so-called levelling up agenda, or tackling regional inequalities in Britain. “My economic plan will boost competition and growth up and down the country, creating the jobs of the future and enabling the country to live well,” she said in a statement.