Tory MP Tobias Ellwood tweeted late Friday that he was “honoured” to take Sunak to the three-figure threshold.
A maximum of three Tory MPs will be able to run, as the party has set a threshold of 100 MPs for candidates to even get on the ballot paper, and there are a total of 357 MPs in the party.
As of early Saturday, Penny Mordaunt was the only candidate to officially enter the contest for the Tory leadership, while newspapers reported former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to enter the fray.
According to a poll by Opinium, UK voters would prefer Sunak and Mordaunt over Johnson as the next PM. When asked to choose between Sunak or Johnson, 44% chose Sunak, and 31% chose his former boss, research conducted by Opinium on Thursday night found.
Following is a selection of reports from newspapers as the race heats up.
Johnson told his ex-aide James Duddridge he’s prepared to mount a bid to return to No. 10, the Sun reports, adding that Johnson may hold talks on Saturday with Sunak to avert another potentially damaging clash for the Conservative Party. “I’m flying back Dudders,” the newspaper quotes Johnson as saying. “We are going to do this. I’m up for it.”
The newspaper’s lead story reports that Sunak’s supporters are urging Johnson not to stand, warning that he would take the party into a “death spiral.” Sunak’s backers say a second spell in No. 10 for Johnson would be “catastrophic” for the economy.
In its lead editorial, the Times again steers clear of endorsing a specific candidate — it backed Sunak over Truss in the summer runoff — but noted that the new leader should name ministers for their competence rather than simply loyalty. The next administration needs to ensure it doesn’t over-promise and under-deliver, it said.
Six Cabinet ministers are backing Johnson, including Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, while Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is going with #BorisOrBust.
Kemi Badenoch, the International Trade Secretary, and Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, are considering backing Johnson.
Former editor Charles Moore, one of Johnson’s long-standing supporters, writes that the former PM should “sit this one out” partly because there’s no evidence that in his time in charge he was ever bothered by the state of the nation’s finances. Sunak has the better skills to navigate the economy through the turbulence ahead.