• Sunak and Truss are in the final of the Conservative Party leadership contest. The winner will be the next prime minister.
  • Trade minister Penny Mordaunt was eliminated in Tuesday's final round of votes by Conservative MPs.
  • The pair will now go to the Tory party membership in a head-to-head contest over the summer.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will be the UK's next prime minister, as they move into the second stage of the Conservative party leadership contest.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt was knocked out of the contest in the final round of voting by Conservative MPs on Wednesday.

Sunak and Truss will now go into a head-to-head contest to secure the backing of Conservative Party members over the summer. The Conservatives claimed to have 200,000 members in March 2021, the Independent reported

The result will be announced on September 5, with Boris Johnson expected to formally resign to the Queen on September 6 before handing over the keys to Downing Street to the winner.

Sunak was the frontrunner throughout the first stage of elimination rounds by Conservative MPs, while Truss' campaign to make it to the final two saw her lagging behind Mordaunt in the first four rounds.

The final ballot saw Sunak get 137 votes, Truss get 113, and Mordaunt eliminated on 105. Two ballot papers were spoilt. 

One MP who supported Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee who was eliminated in the third round of voting, told Insider on Tuesday: "Many of us think it wouldn't be right to give the membership two members of Boris's cabinet [Truss and Sunak] given everything that's happened."

The contest's move to focusing on gaining the support of the Conservative Party membership will see in-person and virtual hustings, as well as campaigning across the country by the candidates.

Conservative members will then vote in a postal vote, with ballot papers expected to arrive on members' doorsteps between August 1 and August 5.

Sunak and Truss can spend up to £300,000 each throughout the leadership contest, up from £150,000 in the 2019 leadership contest, giving them capacity — should they get the funding — to bombard members with reasons why they deserve to be the next leader of the party.

The Tory donors behind Truss and Sunak

Truss has received the backing of the donor Maurizio Bragagni and has been running her campaign from the Westminster townhouse of Lord Greville Howard, another donor.

Sunak, the first major politician to appear on the Sunday Times Rich List, has been publicly backed by more Tory donors. 

Lord Michael Farmer, the former party treasurer, told the Telegraph he supported Sunak; donor Lord Rami Ranger endorsed Sunak; former party treasurer Lord Michael Spencer told the Telegraph he was backing Tugendhat in earlier stages, with Sunak or Mordaunt as his next preferred candidates; and donor Alexander Temerko told Insider he too backed Tugendhat with Sunak as his backup option.

Conservative Party donor Lord Peter Cruddas, who was made a peer in the House of Lords by Johnson, has campaigned for Johnson to be put on the ballot paper as an option to be kept as leader of the Conservative Party. He has been critical of Sunak.

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