Rishi Sunak is clearly the frontrunner to become Britain's new prime minister after Boris Johnson's exit

London - Former UK Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak emerged Sunday as the front-runner to become the country's next prime minister, after Boris Johnson dramatically dropped out of the race to become leader of the Conservative Party.

Current PM Liz Truss stepped down last week after just six disastrous weeks in office. Graham Brady, the Conservative official in charge of the leadership contest, said the new prime minister would take office on Friday.

Truss' replacement candidate has until 2 pm. (9 a.m. ET) on Monday to secure the support of 100 Conservative Party lawmakers to enter the race to become the party — and the country's new leader. Johnson's decision to withdraw from the contest saw Sunak compete with House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt.

If both candidates get the support of 100 MPs, then some 172,000 Conservative Party members will elect a new leader in an online vote.

As of Sunday night, Sunak was the only pair to meet the 100 nomination threshold.

If he remains the only one to reach this number of supporters, he will automatically become the new leader of the Conservative Party. The party's parliamentary majority confirmed he would also become the country's next prime minister.

After days of speculation, Sunak officially declared that he would enter the contest on Sunday, writing on Twitter: “Great Britain is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis. That's why I stand to be your next Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister. I want to improve our economy, unite our Party and give for our country.

"There will be integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level of government that I lead and I will work day after day to get the job done."

Many of Johnson's supporters blame Sunak for helping topple Johnson from power in July after a series of scandals, but late on Sunday he paid tribute to the former PM after he withdrew from the race. “Boris Johnson delivered a great Brexit and vaccine launch. He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced, and then faced Putin and his barbaric war in Ukraine. We will always be grateful to him for that," Sunak tweeted.

"Although he has decided not to run for PM again, I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life at home and abroad."

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, renewed calls for a general election on Sunday, after claiming people were "fed up with back teeth" with the Conservative leadership and the consequences of their government's decision.

“There are choices to be made. We need a general election! Let the public decide… Do they want to continue this chaos, or do they want stability under a Labor government?” Starmer asked during a BBC interview.

Mordaunt was the first to announce his candidacy on Friday. He promised a "fresh start" for Britain, aiming "to unite our country, fulfill our promises and win the next general election." He also ran under the catchy hashtag: "PM4PM."

Mordaunt came third in the last leadership election, narrowly missing out on the members. With 105 votes from lawmakers in the last election, he is also expected to clear the new threshold, and to perform well among party memberships, in part because of his military credentials. Mordaunt was a Royal Navy reservist and served as Secretary of State for Defense.

The last time the Conservatives held a leadership race – after the collapse of the Johnson government – ​​Truss came first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third. Johnson didn't run.

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