Britain’s Conservative Party base skews White and male, but its choice to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson is guaranteed to be anything but.
Former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak, whose resignation from the Cabinet earlier this month helped push Mr. Johnson out the door, all but secured a spot in the two-candidate run-off with another convincing win after Tuesday’s secret ballot of Conservative MPs. Mr. Sunak, the British-born son of parents of Indian descent, received 118 votes to 92 to Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, 86 for Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and 59 for MP Kemi Badenoch.
Ms. Badenoch, the former equalities minister, is thus eliminated from the race, and another vote Wednesday will narrow the field to two. The finalists then face a vote of the dues-paying Conservative Party membership of about 180,000, and the winner will immediately take over from Mr. Johnson at 10 Downing Street without the need for a national election.
Although finishing third, British handicappers say, Ms. Truss is likely to pick up more of Ms. Badenoch’s right-wing supporters than Ms. Mordaunt, making Wednesday’s final vote difficult to predict. And although Mr. Sunak has consistently finished first in the rounds of multi-candidate voting, he has so far not been able to add much support to his totals as rivals drop out.
The sizable Conservative majority in Parliament does not need to face the voters in another general election until the end of 2024, but the race has exposed some splits within the party, with the other candidates attacking the front-running Mr. Sunak over taxes, the future of Brexit and other issues.