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UK leadership candidate and former finance minister Rishi Sunak said it was still "early days" in the leadership contest to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

His statement comes a day after an opinion poll showed him trailing far behind his rival, Liz Truss.

"It's still early days and I'm looking forward to meeting many more of you in the coming weeks," Sunak said in a tweet ahead of campaigning among members of the ruling Conservative Party later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday an opinion poll showed Foreign Secretary Truss had a 34 point lead over Sunak among the Conservative members who will decide Britain's next prime minister over the coming weeks.

According to the latest estimate by betting exchange firm Smarkets, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is been rated to have a 90 per cent shot over former chancellor Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson in the race for becoming the next Prime Minister.

Both contenders have to undergo bouts of 12 nationwide events as the first bout took place in Leeds, Northern England as the members elect a new leader. The result will be announced on September 5.

Earlier on Thursday, the final two candidates had gone head-to-head in a debate in their first official grilling in the presence of conservative party members. 

Former Chancellor Sunak faced a tough evening during the hustings for his lifestyle and dishonesty towards PM Boris Johnson whereas Truss had a fairly good time as she was backed by maximum support for the Prime Ministerial candidature. Truss is leading in surveys of Tory members after vowing immediate tax cuts as Britain confronts a slump in living standards.

Meanwhile, voting by Britain's Conservative Party members to pick the next prime minister has been delayed after the GCHQ spy agency warned that cyber hackers could change people’s ballots, news agencies reported on Tuesday. There was no specific threat from a hostile state, and the advice was more general and about the voting process and its vulnerabilities, report added.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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