It's now up to fewer than 200,000 members of the Conservative Party to choose Britain's next prime minister. Over the next seven weeks, the two contenders will sharpen their pitches, and round on each other, as they slug it out in television or radio studios and in hustings around the nation for the affection of voters - mostly white males, over 60 years of age, living in and around London. The last stretch of the race will hopefully be less of a public spectacle than was the start, when 11 MPs ran one another down in their bid to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was forced to offer his resignation after a series of scandals that prompted more than 50 members of his government to quit.
The front runner in opinion polls is Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, 46. A Johnson loyalist, she has promised to cut taxes, in an apparent nod to the Thatcherite approach, delighting the party base which swears by the former Tory PM. The Brexit-friendly base appears forgiving of her start in politics as a Liberal Democrat and stance as a "remainer" in the 2016 Brexit referendum. As Mr Johnson's international trade aide, she had pressed for better access to the Asean market and in 2020 signed a free trade deal with Singapore. As Foreign Secretary, she is a China hawk and has also taken a hard line with Brussels on post-Brexit arrangements for trade with Ireland. If chosen, she would be Britain's third female PM.