The Conservative leadership election has reached its final stage. Eight prospective candidates have been whittled down by successive MP votes to two: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
The decision as to who will emerge victorious, and become the UK’s next prime minister, now lies in the hands of Conservative Party members. This is a group of around 175,000 individuals who predominantly live in the south, and who in 2017 had an average age of 57, were 97 per cent white British, and were 71 per cent male.
This is the third successive Conservative leadership election in which the victor will immediately become prime minister. But the results of the latest MP vote reveals a party far more divided than on those previous occasions.
Rather than MPs coalescing around a single candidate, the final ballot saw a fairly even split between Sunak (38 per cent), Truss (32 per cent), and the third-placed candidate Penny Mordaunt (30 per cent). With responses to the cost-of-living crisis, the climate crisis and Brexit all deeply dividing the party, the Conservatives have struggled to reach a consensus on who is best to lead the party forward.
During the previous three Tory leadership elections, the victor of the final MP vote also went on to become prime minister. But on this occasion it is Truss who is currently the bookies’ favourite to win, despite coming second. Should this prove correct, the Foreign Secretary will be less popular among MPs than her five predecessors as party leader.
[See also: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are struggling to convince Red Wall and Blue Wall voters]