The former Chancellor wasted no time in attempting to win-over the 102 MPs who reportedly backed Mr Johnson. While Johnson’s hat was still in the ring, it was looking likely that the leadership contest would see rivals Sunak and Johnson go head-to-head, if Mr Johnson truly did “have the numbers”.
The former Prime Minister only had the public support of 59 Tory MPs, but in his withdrawal statement said that he had surpassed the 100 minimum required with 102.
Mr Sunak has over 165 backers while his remaining potential candidate Penny Mordaunt trails behind with 30.
The vast difference means that the backers of Boris Johnson could entirely change the odds of Ms Mordaunt and Mr Sunak.
In winning them over and being the only candidate to surpass the threshold, Sunak could well see himself automatically in No 10.
The announcement of who has made the ballot will be made at 2pm on Monday afternoon.
With everything to play for, Sunak took to Twitter following Johnson’s resignation to praise his former colleague and rival.
The MP for Richmond said: “Boris Johnson delivered Brexit and the great vaccine roll-out.
“He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced, and then took on Putin and his barbaric war in Ukraine.
“We will always be grateful to him for that.”
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A source close to Mr Sunak told The Guardian that the former Chancellor was “not taking anything for granted” and “will be continuing to talk to colleagues tomorrow morning before nomination papers go in, and discussing how best to unit the party and take the country forward”.
Meanwhile, Deputy leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner slammed the leadership contest and demanded a general election.
She said: “The Tories are about to hand the keys of the country to Rishi Sunak without him saying a single word on how he would govern.
“No one voted for this. Perhaps it’s not surprising he’s avoiding scrutiny: after all, he was so bad that just a few weeks ago, he was trounced by Liz Truss.”