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Here are the 5 candidates to replace U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Tory leader

This composite image shows five remaining candidates for the British Conservative Party leadership: Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Rishi Sunak and Tom Tugendhat.
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This composite image shows five remaining candidates for the British Conservative Party leadership: Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Rishi Sunak and Tom Tugendhat.

Updated July 15, 2022 at 7:22 PM ET

LONDON — The search is on for a new leader of government in the United Kingdom, and the governing Conservative Party has been narrowing down the field of candidates.

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned as party leader earlier this month, hundreds of his fellow Conservatives in Parliament have been voting on a possible successor, who would also replace him as prime minister. This series of votes concludes next week.

Once only two contenders remain, grassroots members of the Conservative Party across the country will have the opportunity to vote. There is no general election. The winner of the party vote is set to be announced Sept. 5 and will become the U.K.'s new prime minister.

After several knock-out rounds this past week, here are the remaining five candidates for the Conservative leadership:

Rishi Sunak

Then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attends a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing St. on May 24, in London.
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Then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attends a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing St. on May 24, in London.

Starting in 2020, Sunak served as chancellor of the Exchequer, Britain's second most senior political office, overseeing the treasury. His decision to resign from that role earlier this month prompted a cascade of subsequent resignations from government, which eventually forced Johnson to announce he would step down as leader of the Conservative Party. A former investment banker, he was first elected as a lawmaker in 2015. His popularity with the British public as a top Cabinet member soared during the coronavirus pandemic, as his treasury department announced a series of policies that provided many citizens with financial support. He soon became a favorite to replace Johnson, but a controversy over his wealthy wife's tax affairs and a criminal fine for breaching lockdown rules dented his reputation as a competent operator.

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks to supporters and journalists as she launches her campaign to become the next prime minister on Thursday in London.
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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks to supporters and journalists as she launches her campaign to become the next prime minister on Thursday in London.

Statistically, Truss has spent more time as a member of the British Cabinet than any of her opponents in this leadership race. She has held a series of high-profile posts that have culminated in her current role as foreign minister — only the second woman to have the job in history. She grew up in England and Scotland, and studied at Oxford University, majoring in the most traditional of subjects for Britain's political elite: politics, philosophy and economics. Prior to her career in Parliament, she worked as an accountant, and was elected to her constituency several hours northeast of London back in 2010. She initially opposed Brexit, but has in recent years taken an increasingly hard-line approach to British relations with the European Union, and has regularly threatened to breach the current trade agreement between the U.K. and the EU. She is considered by many colleagues to be a Johnson loyalist, and has promised to cut taxes if she is selected as the next prime minister.

Penny Mordaunt

British Conservative politician Penny Mordaunt addresses the media and supporters during a news conference to launch her campaign for party leadership, on Wednesday, in London.
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British Conservative politician Penny Mordaunt addresses the media and supporters during a news conference to launch her campaign for party leadership, on Wednesday, in London.

A surprise success in this leadership contest so far, Mordaunt finished second to Sunak in the recent round of voting by Conservative lawmakers, though polls well among grassroots members of the Conservative Party that will likely decide their next party leader over the course of the summer. She has participated in a reality TV show, and held various roles in government over the course of the past decade, including the defense and Brexit portfolios. She is currently one of several ministers responsible for trade policy, and was among the Conservative Party's most ardent campaigners in favor of Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum on Britain's EU membership. She once oversaw the party's youth wing, and during her recent campaigning, she has advocated for lower taxes, a smaller state and greater personal responsibility.

Kemi Badenoch

Conservative party leadership contender Kemi Badenoch at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, before a live TV debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party, hosted by Channel 4, on Friday.
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PA Images via Getty Images
Conservative party leadership contender Kemi Badenoch at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, before a live TV debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party, hosted by Channel 4, on Friday.

One of the least experienced of the candidates, Badenoch is currently fourth favorite after two rounds of votes by her fellow party legislators. She has focused her platform on reducing the role of the state in people's lives but has promised not to participate in what she calls a "bidding war" with the other candidates to reduce taxes. The former equalities minister, she is considered to be one of the more culturally conservative participants in this leadership contest. She was born in London to parents originally from Nigeria, but spent her childhood back in Nigeria as well as the United States, before returning to Britain for her final two years of high school, at which point she worked at McDonald's alongside studying.

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat delivers his first speech of his Conservative Party leadership campaign on Tuesday, in London. Tugendhat is a senior backbench member of Parliament.
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Tom Tugendhat delivers his first speech of his Conservative Party leadership campaign on Tuesday, in London. Tugendhat is a senior backbench member of Parliament.

A military veteran without previous experience as a government minister, Tugendhat has advocated increased defense spending and is currently the chair of the British Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee. He has developed a profile as a frequent critic of Johnson and his government's policies, and in particular over what he has described as Britain's disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. He has studied Arabic in Yemen, worked in Lebanon and attended Cambridge University as a graduate student focused on Islam. Both his mother and wife are French, so he holds dual British and French nationality, and speaks a smattering of other languages with various degrees of proficiency. He was instrumental in the campaign to persuade the British government to ban Huawei, the Chinese company from having any involvement in the country's 5G mobile networks, and was sanctioned by China.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Willem Marx
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