Penny Mordaunt has become the first politician to state her intentions to take over from Liz Truss following her brief tenure as British prime minister. But Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson are thought to have more support.
The race to replace Liz Truss as Conservative Party leader, and by extension British prime minister, started in earnest on Friday with the first formal declaration of intent.
The leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, a former defense minister and a candidate in the last Conservative leadership contest in the summer, confirmed that she would be seeking the role.
"I've been encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest. I'm running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister — to unite our country, deliver our pledges and win the next [general election]," Mordaunt wrote on Twitter, adding the hash tag #PM4PM.
However, media organizations trying to track support among Conservative MPs for potential candidates unanimously reported higher preliminary levels of support for two candidates who were yet to declare: previous Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, who lost the last leadership contest runoff against Truss.
According to a tally by Reuters news agency, 59 Conservative MPs had so far made public declarations of support for Sunak, 30 for Johnson and 16 for Mordaunt.