British Conservative Party lawmakers cast ballots Wednesday in the first round of the election to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Eight candidates have secured the necessary support of 20 of their colleagues to make the first ballot. If necessary, further rounds of voting will take place on Thursday and next week.
Once only two candidates remain, they will participate in a runoff vote by about 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country. The winner is scheduled to be announced September 5 and will immediately become the new prime minister.
Several high-profile candidates are in the first round, including former treasury chief Rishi Sunak, the bookies’ favorite, who has several declared supporters. Other candidates are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt.
Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi, lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Attorney General Suella Braverman are also on the ballot.
Johnson resigned as Conservative leader last week amid months of scandals. He said he would remain prime minister until his replacement is chosen.
Mordaunt said at her official campaign launch Wednesday that the party has “standards and trust to restore” after Johnson’s scandals.
The slate of candidates is diverse, with four candidates from ethnic minorities and four women. All the candidates have similar ideas in terms of tax-slashing policies, though Sunak expressed caution.
A spokeswoman for Johnson insisted he would remain neutral in the search for his replacement.
At the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ) session at the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson told Labour leader Keir Starmer, “The next leader of my party may be elected by acclamation. So, it’s possible this will be our last confrontation.”
He added that it was “true that I leave not at a time of my choosing, but I will be leaving soon with my head held high.”