Boris Johnson, who was ousted from the premiership in July and left office in September, currently has the support of 59 MPs. Penny Mordaunt has 29.
If both Johnson and Mordaunt fail to garner the support of 100 MPs by Monday, Rishi Sunak would automatically become the prime minister.
Under rules announced on Thursday, a maximum of three Tory MPs will be able to run, as the party has set a threshold of 100 MPs for candidates to even get on the ballot paper, and there are a total of 357 MPs in the party.
If there is a three-way clash, MPs will hold an indicative ballot on Monday to put forward the final two shortlisted candidates for an expedited online vote by around 170,000 Tory members, with the new leader elected by next Friday.
Rishi Sunak announced his official candidacy today, saying that he aims to fix the economy, unite the party and “deliver for the country”.
Johnson and Sunak met last night amid speculation of a deal between the two, despite the bitterness left by Sunak’s role in Johnson’s downfall as prime minister. There was no apparent outcome from those discussions and no mention of Johnson in Sunak’s announcement today.
With inputs from NDTV