Former chancellor Rishi Sunak on Monday (October 24) won the battle for leader of Britain’s Conservative party and will become the country’s first prime minister of color.
Penny Mordaunt, the last rival left after Boris Johnson dramatically pulled out, failed to secure the necessary 100 nominations from her fellow MPs.
“Rishi Sunak is therefore elected as leader of the Conservative party,” senior backbencher Graham Brady said, as Mordaunt pledged her “full support” for Sunak.
Sunak’s triumph came after Johnson’s decision late Sunday to abandon his political comeback bid.
Just weeks after he lost out to Liz Truss to lead the ruling Tories, Sunak therefore pulled off a stunning reversal in fortunes.
The contest, triggered by outgoing leader Truss’s resignation on Thursday, had required candidates to secure the support of at least 100 Conservative MPs by 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Monday.
Only Sunak made the threshold, Brady announced.
Sunak, a Hindu descendant of immigrants from India and East Africa, had crossed that threshold by Friday night, and amassed nearly 200 public nominations — more than half the parliamentary Tory party.
Johnson’s withdrawal from the race — before he had even formally announced his candidacy — left cabinet member Mordaunt the only other declared contender.
However, she failed to garner the necessary support, putting an abrupt end to the contest.
If she had, the race would have been decided by the party’s roughly 170,000 members in an online vote, with the result not announced until the end of the week.
Sunak’s victory came on the day Hindus worldwide mark the start of the five-day festival of Diwali — a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
When he was chancellor of the exchequer, in November 2020, Sunak marked the occasion by lighting oil lamps on the front step of the chancellor’s official residence at 11 Downing Street.
Sunak will be asked to form a government by King Charles, replacing Liz Truss, the outgoing leader who only lasted 44 days in the job before she resigned.