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What happens next in Liz Truss vs Rishi Sunak leadership contest?


Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will battle it out over the next six weeks to be the UK’s next prime minister after making it into the final stage of Conservative leadership contest.

The former chancellor and the foreign secretary finished in the top two places after five rounds of voting by Tory MPs, with Penny Mordaunt eliminated after a bitterly-fought contest.

So what it happens next? The final two now switch their focus away from Westminster and begin charming Tory members, who have the final say on who replaces Boris Johnson at No 10 in early September.

The first chance for Sunak and Truss to make their pitch to Tory members – and the wider public – comes on Monday evening at 9pm when they face each other on a BBC debate.

The two contenders will then face each other at 12 Tory hustings debates around the country, starting on 28 July in Leeds and finishing on 31 August in London.

Although the process doesn’t come to an end until early September, many of the estimated 160,000 Tory members who get to decide on the next PM may make their minds up quickly.

Ballot papers will begin landing on Tory members’ doorsteps as soon as 1 August, with the party telling paid-up supporters to expect them between 1 and 5 August.

And members who wish to vote online will receive an email on 2 August containing the two unique security codes allowing them to cast their ballot digitally.

Intriguingly, members will be able to change their mind during the contest. They can send both a physical ballot and an online ballot, with the most recent one being counted.

Tory members then have until 5pm on 2 September to send their ballot to the party, with the final result announced on 5 September.

Boris Johnson would be expected to head to Buckingham Palace for formalities with the Queen 6 September, before either Sunak or Truss takes over the same day. Both have ruled out an early general election.

The battle is set to expose a clear rift between Truss’s right-wing agenda of immediate tax cuts and confrontation with the EU, and Sunak’s more cautious approach avoiding “fairytale” tax giveaways.

Sunak, the frontrunner throughout the parliamentary leg of the contest, received 137 votes in the final round of voting. Truss won 113 votes, narrowly pushing Mordaunt into third place on 105.

Bookmakers have made Truss the favourite to win the contest in the country, after polling of Tory members pointed to her being favoured over Sunak.

The most recent ConservativeHome online survey of the Tory grassroots also suggested that Truss would beat Sunak in a head-to-contest contest decided by members.

However, Sunak set out his pitch to members in a brief video clip after Wednesday’s results. He claimed that he is “the only candidate” who can beat Keir Starmer at the next general election.

Team Sunak has pointed to polling which suggest he is more popular with the wider public and has the best chance of beating a resurgent Labour party.

All Tory hustings events:

28 July: Leeds

1 August: Exeter

3 August: Cardiff

5 August: Eastbourne

9 August: Darlington

11 August: Cheltenham

16 August: Perth

17 August: Northern Ireland

19 August: Manchester

23 August: Birmingham

25 August: Norwich

31 August: London


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