The former chancellor’s supporters claim he has taken an early lead (Picture: Getty/Reuters)
Rishi Sunak has reportedly stormed ahead in the latest race to No 10 – despite not yet formally confirming his intention to take part.
The former Chancellor is believed to have become the first Conservative to secure the backing of 100 MPs.
As there are currently 357 Tory MPs, a maximum of three candidates could possibly be nominated on Monday.
Penny Mordaunt, who became the first to confirm her candidacy to replace Liz Truss as Prime Minister, is thought to have 18 backers.
In a statement, she said she’d been ‘encouraged by support from colleagues’ to ‘unite our country’.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson, who has told allies he is ‘up for it’, sits on 48 backers.
He was flying back overnight from his holiday in the Dominican Republic to reportedly enter the race to No 10 and attempt an extraordinary comeback.
According to Sky News, the former prime minister received ‘one or two boos’ on his flight last night.
The former prime minister was on holiday when Liz Truss resigned as PM (Picture: Sky News)
On Friday night, Mr Sunak’s supporters said he had amassed the necessary numbers to reach the threshold, way ahead of Monday’s deadline.
But he has been urged by some Conservatives to ‘get back together’ with Mr Johnson – despite their tumultuous past.
The pair had sparred in a massive row over taxes before the ex-Chancellor’s shock resignation in July.
It led to a domino effect of departures that ultimately paved the way for Mr Johnson’s fate.
Rishi Sunak reportedly has the backing of 100 supporters ahead of Monday (Picture: AP)
An ally of the former prime minister told the Telegraph: ’If the Tories are serious about winning in 2024 and want to stop a general election before then they need to revert to the guy with a mandate who is a seasoned campaigner.
‘They need someone to take the fight to Labour.
‘There’s no point going to a yellow box junction without knowing how you are going to get out of it. Rishi should make contact and work out how the two of them can get back together.’
Tory MPs will vote on Monday, and two candidates will be put forward to the Tory membership unless one pulls out, with a result being announced on Friday.
Penny Mordaunt threw her hat in the ring as she vowed to ‘unite our country’ (Picture: Reuters)
Mr Johnson won the public support of six Cabinet ministers: Ben Wallace, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke, Chris Heaton-Harris, Alok Sharma and Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
It came as former Tory leader Lord William Hague warned his return would lead to a ‘death spiral’ for the Conservative Party.
Analysts at Berenberg Bank also said there were greater market risks from a Johnson government.
FT reports that the bank told its clients: ‘Given that a majority of Conservative MPs probably do not want Johnson as their leader, the prospects of mass resignations and a further descent into chaos would loom large.’
Candidates have until 2pm on Monday to secure the 100 nominations, limiting the ballot to a maximum of three candidates.
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The former chancellor has reportedly stormed ahead in the latest race to No 10.