Penny Mordaunt said on Sunday she was staying in the race to become British prime minister despite trailing rivals Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson in the number of declared backers, dismissing a report that she had discussed a deal with Johnson.
“I am in this to win it, I think its important for our party, we have a contest I am very confident about our numbers,” Mordaunt, with the declared backing of 23 lawmakers, told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.
Britain has been thrust into a fresh political crisis after prime minister Liz Truss was forced to stand down over an economic policy that sparked turmoil in financial markets, driving up borrowing costs and mortgage rates at a time of surging energy and food bills.
Former finance minister Rishi Sunak was endorsed by lawmaker Dominic Raab who said that he got the numbers, referring to the rule that require potential candidates to get the support of 100 lawmakers to enter a ballot on Monday to become the next prime minister.
Boris Johnson would clearly stand, said Jacob Rees-Mogg, although he has not yet made an official announcement.
Johnson served as prime from 2019 to 2022 until he was forced to resign over a string of scandals.
Johnson is still facing an investigation into whether he misled parliament when he was last in power, and several former backers have said that would guarantee a return to the constant state of drama that accompanied his previous premiership.
Under the rules, if only one candidate passes the threshold of 100 lawmakers on Monday then they will be declared as prime minister.
If more than one clears the hurdle, they will face a vote of around 170,000 signed-up members of the Conservative Party, with the winner announced on Friday