Lawmakers from the British Conservative Party cast their votes on Wednesday in the first round of elections to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Eight candidates have obtained the necessary support from 20 of their colleagues to carry out the first vote. If necessary, further rounds of voting will be held on Thursday and next week.
Once only two candidates remain, they will take part in a run-off of some 180,000 Conservative Party members across the country. The winner is scheduled to be announced on September 5 and will immediately become the new prime minister.
Several high-profile candidates are in the first round, including former chief treasury Rishi Sunak, the bookmaker’s favorite, who has several avowed supporters. Other candidates are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt.
Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi, lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Attorney General Suella Braverman are also on the ballot.
Johnson resigned as Conservative leader last week amid months of scandal. He said that he would remain prime minister until his replacement is elected.
Mordaunt said at his official campaign launch Wednesday that the party has “standards and confidence to restore” after the Johnson scandals.
The list of candidates is diverse, with four candidates from ethnic minorities and four women. All the candidates have similar ideas in terms of tax reduction policies, although Sunak expressed caution.
A spokeswoman for Johnson insisted he would remain neutral in the search for his replacement.
At the weekly Prime Minister Questions (PMQ) session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson told Labor leader Keir Starmer: “The next leader of my party can be elected by acclamation. So this may be our last confrontation.”
He added that it was “true that I am not leaving at a time of my choosing, but I will be leaving soon with my head held high.”