Liz Truss is set to go head-to-head with Rishi Sunak to become Britain’s next prime minister after Penny Mordaunt was knocked out of the Conservative leadership race.
Sunak, the former chancellor, came top in the fifth round of voting by Tory MPs at Westminster with 137 votes, followed by Truss, the serving foreign secretary, with 113.
Mordaunt, the junior trade minister who was in second place until the final round of voting, was eliminated with 105 votes.
She was overtaken by Truss after the foreign secretary gained the backing of supporters of Kemi Badenoch, the former equalities minister who had been voted out of the race on Tuesday.
Sunak and Truss will now battle to win over 150,000 Tory activists this summer to be the next Tory party leader and prime minister. Ballot papers will be sent out in early August and the result will be announced on September 5.
Opinion polls suggest that Truss is ahead of Sunak among party members, with many activists disliking Sunak’s record as a tax-raising chancellor and over his perceived disloyalty to outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson.
A YouGov poll for the Times found that Sunak would lose convincingly to both his rivals in a ballot of party members, but his backers maintain his relative popularity with ordinary voters who could swing the vote his way.