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Rishi Sunak set to be prime minister after Mordaunt drops out

Rishi Sunak is set to be the UK’s next prime minister after Penny Mordaunt officially dropped out of the race.

Following the resignation of Liz Truss on Thursday after 45 days in office, Sunak is set to be the third Conservative prime minister of the year and the fifth since 2016.

After the announcement, Sunak told Tory MPs at the Conservative HQ in London that he is “humbled and honoured”¬†to be the next prime minsiter.

He praised Truss for her “dignified” leadership “under difficult circumstances abroad and at home” and promised to “work day in, day out to deliver for the British people.”

Sunak added: “I pledge that I will service you with integrity and humility.”

Under the rules of the leadership contest, announced on Friday, candidates required the support of 100 of their own MPs to make it to the next stage of the contest.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson pulled out of the race last night, despite insisting he had enough nominations to run.

Mordaunt was the only other candidate who publicly declared her leadership bid, but pulled out of the race just minutes before the candidates were to be announced.

In her withdrawal statement, Mordaunt said that Sunak had her full support, and said that the party owed it to both itself and the country to unite behind him.

Sunak had almost 200 public backers among MPs but faced a wait over whether Mordaunt or Johnson would reach the threshold to join him on the ballot.

However, Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, confirmed at 2pm that Sunak was the only name on the ballot and therefore confirmed as leader of the Conservative Party.

Johnson’s key backers turned to Sunak overnight in a pivotal moment in the race, after Johnson released a statement, claiming he could not unite the Conservative Party in Parliament.

He said: “There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.

“But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament.”

Featured image credit: Chris McAndrew – official Government portrait – under CC BY 3.0 license

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