World Sunak tops first round of Britain's Conservative Party voting;...

Sunak tops first round of Britain’s Conservative Party voting; Hunt, Zahawi booted from ballot

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Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak came out on top of the first round of voting for new leader of the Conservative Party. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

July 13 (BP) — Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson’s former chancellor of the exchequer, topped the Conservative Party’s ballot to select a new leader in the first round of voting Wednesday.

MPs Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi, the current chancellor of the exchequer, came in at the bottom of voting. Only the Top 6 of the eight leaders on Wednesday’s ballot will go on to Round 2 of voting Thursday.

Sunak received 88 votes, followed by Penny Mordaunt with 67, Liz Truss with 50, Kemi Badenoch with 40, Tom Tugendhat with 37, Suella Braverman with 32, Zahawi with 25 and Hunt with 18.

The second and subsequent rounds of voting will knock out the bottom candidate each time until only two remain, according to a Guardian timeline of the election process. There will also be televised debates Friday, Sunday and Monday. The Conservative Party is expected to announce its new leader Sept. 5.

A YouGov poll of 879 Conservative Party members indicates Mordaunt is the favorite to win the election, with 27% of respondents supporting her.

The new leader will replace Boris Johnson, who announced Friday his plans to resign as prime minister. He remains in power until the leader premier is selected.

Sunak resigned from Johnson’s Cabinet on July 5 amid a wave of top party leader departures, which were spurred by allegations that former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher groped two guests at a dinner.

Johnson faced criticism for appointing Pincher to a top-level position in February despite the fact that the latter had previously faced sexual misconduct allegations. Johnson’s ministers initially said he hadn’t known about the allegations, but last week, a spokesman said the prime minister knew about the allegations but believed they were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint.”

Simon McDonald, the former top civil servant at the Foreign Office, later said Johnson was briefed about Pincher’s behavior prior to his February appointment.

“The original No. 10 line is not true and the modification is still not accurate,” McDonald said of Johnson’s various statements.

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