Former UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has won the first round of voting among Conservative MPs to be their party leader as two candidates were knocked out.
Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi on Wednesday failed to meet the requisite level of support from 30 Tory MPs to make the next round of voting in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as UK prime minister.
Penny Mordaunt, Sunak, Tom Tugendhat, Liz Truss, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch remain in contention to be Tory party leader and UK prime minister.
Sunak won 88 votes, Mordaunt 67 and Truss 50 ahead of Badenoch on 40, Tugendhat on 37 and Braverman on 32.
Mordaunt, the international trade minister, was boosted by a YouGov poll of Tory grassroots party members a few hours earlier that put her far ahead of all other candidates in a final run-off.
The odds on her winning the contest shortened after the poll suggested she would beat Sunak by 58 per cent to 31 per cent.
The process will reduce the candidates by next week to a final pair who will then fight for the support of more than 100,000 Tory members ahead of a vote in early September.