I'm the underdog: UK PM candidate Sunak

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Former British treasurer Rishi Sunak, one of two remaining candidates to become the country's next prime minister, has described himself as the underdog in the contest.

Sunak's resignation helped trigger a revolt that saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson agree to step down after a series of scandals.

Members of the ruling Conservative Party will vote for a successor over the northern summer, with an announcement due on September 5.

Sunak led all rounds of the voting among Conservative Party MPs, which reduced the field to two candidates.

But it is foreign secretary Liz Truss who seems to have gained the advantage so far among the 200,000 members of the governing party who will ultimately choose the winner.

Truss held a 24-point lead over Sunak in a YouGov poll of Conservative Party members published on Thursday.

"Be in no doubt, I am the underdog," Sunak said in a speech in Grantham, central England, the birthplace of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Truss would be Britain's third female leader after Thatcher (1979-1990) and Theresa May (2016-2019), while Sunak would become the country's first prime minister of Indian origin.

"The forces that be want this to be a coronation for the other candidate but I think members want a choice and they are prepared to listen," he said.

So far the focus has been on pledges, or non-pledges, to cut taxes, at a time when many people are struggling.

Defence spending and energy policy have also figured prominently, while on Friday Truss vowed to scrap all remaining European Union laws that still apply in Britain by 2023 if she wins the leadership contest.

Britain's relationship with Europe remains of great concern to the Conservative Party's eurosceptic membership.

"EU regulations hinder our businesses and this has to change," Truss said in a statement setting out her credentials as the "Brexit delivery" prime minister.

In his speech Sunak, laid out his Thatcherite credentials, promising careful management of the economy before tax cuts.

He criticised as arbitrary Truss' pledge to increase defence spending - another traditional Conservative hobby horse - to three per cent of GDP by 2030.

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