Rishi Sunak closes in on Downing Street after Boris Johnson pulls out of leadership race
- Former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak looks set to become the next prime minister of the U.K., with votes to be counted Monday afternoon.
- Former Defense Minister Penny Mordaunt is his only rival after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulled out of the race Sunday.
LONDON — Former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak looks set to become the next prime minister of the U.K., with votes to be counted Monday afternoon.
Sunak could be confirmed as the next leader of the Conservative Party and U.K. prime minister as early as 2 p.m. Monday, by which point candidates need to have secured at least 100 nominations from fellow Tory lawmakers to stand as leader of the party.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Sunak's biggest competition, but he dropped out of the race late Sunday.
The only remaining contender for the leadership position is Penny Mordaunt, a former defense minister, who came behind Sunak in the original contest to take charge of the Conservative Party in September.
If both Sunak and Mordaunt have more than 100 backers on Monday and no one decides to pull out, members of the wider Conservative Party will vote for their new leader, who will then be announced Friday.
Sunak is believed to have around 194 public backers, according to Sky News. Mordaunt's campaign team is claiming to have 90 backers, as tweeted by the Financial Times' Jim Pickard, but only 25 have publicly declared their support, as reported by Sky News.
There are 357 lawmakers eligible to vote.
The European Research Group, a euroskeptic faction of the Conservative Party that typically backs a candidate collectively, announced Monday it had been unable to choose between Sunak and Mordaunt.
"We believe that we have one and potentially two extremely strong options to be leader of the Conservative Party but as a group we were unable to collectively endorse either candidate," Mark Francois, chair of the group said. The organization did however say it would "unite" around whichever candidate was chosen.
Among Sunak's backers are current Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt and former Finance Minister Sajid Javid, along with current Interior Minister Grant Shapps and his predecessors Suella Braverman and Priti Patel.
Mordaunt is thought to be calling around for votes, with her campaign team telling Sky News' Beth Rigby that "she's getting the numbers and she's in it to win it."
Gilt yields fall
Sterling rose and the yield on 10-year U.K. government bonds, known as gilts, fell to the lowest level in a month in early trade Monday, briefly hitting 3.814%, down 21 basis points for the session.
The shifts were prompted by the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister and Johnson leaving the leadership race, according to Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
"Johnson had threatened to cause fresh political instability, given that it's less than two months since he left the job, so his retreat from the race brought a sigh of relief for sterling and an even bigger sigh of relief on the bond markets," Streeter wrote in an analysis note Monday.
"It's an indication that bond vigilantes have been pacified by the expectations of a calmer political horizon ahead with fiscal responsibility forecast to be the new mantra of the incoming Prime Minister," she said.
A new prime minister is being chosen after Truss announced her resignation Thursday after just 44 days in the role. Pressure had mounted for the short-lived leader to quit after her new finance policies flopped and caused market chaos.