Rival contender Penny Mordaunt pulls out meaning decision on UK’s next PM will not be taken by Conservative party membership

Rishi Sunak will become the next prime minister after his rival Penny Mordaunt pulled out of the leadership race just minutes before the results of the final round of voting were due to be announced.

Mordaunt’s move means the decision over the UK’s new leader will no longer be taken by Conservative party members. He will become this year’s third prime minister and will replace Liz Truss just seven weeks after he lost this summer’s leadership race.


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Rishi Sunak is set to become the UK’s youngest prime minister this century

Sunak secured the support of more than half of Conservative MPs with the numbers of his declared backers swelling dramatically after former prime minister Boris Johnson backed out of the election yesterday evening.

The result will make Sunak the UK’s first British Indian prime minister and the first person of Hindu faith to lead the country. He will also be this century’s youngest PM, at the age of 42.

Mordaunt announced she was abandoning her bid shortly before the final round of parliamentary voting was due to be announced by Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs. 

Her campaign team had claimed this afternoon to be just a few names short of the 100 MPs needed for a valid nomination, although she had just 27 publicly declared backers. 

Sunak officially announced his bid only yesterday, saying he wanted to “fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country”. He added that there would be “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level of the government”.

Support for the former chancellor among Conservative MPs had grown in recent weeks after many of the predictions he had made over the summer about Liz Truss’ tax-cutting economic agenda, including that it would lead to rising interest rates, proved to be true.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said Sunak’s overwhelming priority must be to restore stability to British politics and called on him to embrace infrastructure for growth policies. The trade body’s director of operations Marie-Claude Hemming said: “We hope the new Prime Minister will not repeat the mistakes made in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when capital spending was cut too far and too fast, and economically viable projects were cancelled for short-termist reasons - often to the detriment of the taxpayer, as they had to be re-procured at greater cost at a later date.”

Industry reacts to Rishi Sunak’s victory

British Property chief executive Melanie Leech:

“The last few months have damaged the UK’s international reputation and economic standing, the country urgently needs strong and competent leadership to rebuild confidence. The new Prime Minister needs to confirm their leadership team as soon as possible and provide clarity on their strategy for stabilising the economy and their policy priorities.  The property industry stands ready to work with Rishi Sunak in creating a thriving economy and addressing regional inequalities through the delivery of new homes, work and leisure spaces that are essential to revitalising our towns and high streets.”

Local Government Association chairman James Jamieson:

“On behalf of councils across England and Wales, I would like to congratulate Rishi Sunak on becoming our new Prime Minister.  As a former Local Government Minister and Chancellor, the PM already understands the mounting pressures that the sector face and the funding that councils desperately need to ensure they can keep vital services running for the many people who rely on them.

“Across the country, councils are working hard to support residents with the cost of living; looking after our most vulnerable children and adults; building desperately needed homes; supporting children with SEND and providing accommodation to those fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan.

“However, without certainty of adequate funding - and given the funding gaps they are seeing - councils will have no choice but to implement significant reductions to services including to those for the most vulnerable in our societies. In these difficult times, we all need to come together and work in the best interests of our residents. The Government needs to ensure councils have the funding to meet ongoing pressures and protect the services that will be vital to achieve its ambitions for growth and to produce a more balanced economy, level up communities and help residents through this cost-of-living crisis.”

Timber Development UK chief exectuive David Hopkins:

“Like many other parts of the construction industry, timber businesses are crying out for some political stability right now. We hope the appointment of Rishi Sunak as PM will provide this and continue to calm down the markets too. Of course, he has some urgent economic issues to prioritise. But for TDUK members, whether he’s a good PM or not will also be judged by his actions on Net Zero.

“Liz Truss commissioned a review of Net Zero policies to ensure they are pro-growth and pro-business, following increasing scepticism amongst conservative MPs. We firmly believe that a Net Zero strategy with effective and targeted regulation is a driver of economic growth and can be part of the solution to this country’s difficulties. We look forward to productive conversations with Mr Sunak’s ministers on this and other issues in the coming months.”

Royal Town Planning Institute chief executive Victoria Hills: 

“Rishi Sunak has pledged to fix our economy and deliver on promises made in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto. But he will need an effective and robust planning system to achieve these goals.

“Our members have shown resilience, and consistent dedication to their profession, but they are concerned that continued uncertainty will delay plans and projects their communities need.

“I have today written to the new Leader of the Conservative Party urging him to provide certainty on planning reforms, adequate funding for planning, and to give local communities a say on what happens in their area. We are actively working to engage government throughout this period of transition, to demonstrate that an effective and robust planning system can be an enabler of economic growth, delivering the affordable homes, public services and critical infrastructure that this country needs.” 

Chartered Institute of Building policy director Eddie Tuttle: 

“At the time Liz Truss became Prime Minister, we called for consistency and ministers to be appointed for the long term to provide some stability and confidence for those in the construction industry, and this position hasn’t changed. In fact, with so many changes in Government since then, is even more relevant.

“Levelling up, net zero and energy efficiency in existing and new housing remain key issues we’d like the new PM and their cabinet to focus on in relation to their immediate priorities, which will clearly be the economy and cost of living crisis. The levelling up agenda provides significant opportunities for the construction sector, through local job creation and stability, while property retrofit schemes to improve energy efficiency for example, will further boost the sector and go some way to helping residents mitigate rising energy costs.  Long term infrastructure and capital investment planning is also very much needed to provide a level of assurance and confidence for the industry and its supply chain together with the need to address the current delays in the planning system which are constraining supply.” 

Richard Steer chair Gleeds Worldwide:

“What we require as a sector from our Govt is stability, and competence. To date all we have had is chaos and carnage. We must move from being regarded as a global laughing stock to being seen as a strong credible member of the G7 and a worthy home for investors.

My fear is that whilst our new PM is undoubtedly a vast improvement on his two predecessors, it is neither the markets nor opposition that will prove to be his sword of Damocles. It is the members of his own party who seem to prioritise personal politics above financial pragmatism and that is my worry.”