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Rishi Sunak could be the new UK PM as Boris Johnson exits race

Sunak has the backing of 155 MPs while Penny Mordaunt has just 24

Rishi Sunak Former British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Conservative MP Rishi Sunak is all set to become the new Prime Minister of the UK after former state head Boris Johnson pulled out of the race just hours before the deadline to file the nominations. 

Of the 355 Conservative MPs in the Parliament, Sunak has the backing of 155 MPs, reported BBC News. The other candidate Penny Mordaunt has just 24, severely falling short of the threshold to be in the race which is 100 MPs. Unless Mordaunt gets the backing of more MPs by Monday afternoon, Sunak could be the new Prime Minister. 

Sunak formally declared his candidacy on Sunday. He took to Twitter to claim that he can "fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country," and that although "the challenges we face now are even greater" than those posed by the pandemic, "the opportunities - if we make the right choice - are phenomenal."

The nominations close at 14:00 BST (IST 6:30 pm) on Monday and the voting, if there is more than one candidate, starts at 15:30 BST (IST 8 pm). If elected, Sunak will be the third prime minister in seven weeks. 

The race to find the new Prime Minister began on Thursday after Liz Truss had to resign after 45 days in the job after her tax-cuts backfired.

Boris Johnson pulls out

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who claimed he had the backing of over 100 MPs despite only 57 publicly declaring their support for him, pulled out of the race. He stated that he was quitting the race because "this is simply not the right time."

"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," he said in a statement. 

He added that he wanted to contest because he "led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago - and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now." 

He concluded his statement by saying that he reached out to both Sunak and Mordaunt but could not work out a way of doing this. 

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