AS the race to become the next UK Prime Minister progresses to its next stage, it looks like North Wiltshire MP James Gray could be backing the potential winner.

He’s put his support behind Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, a 2/5 favourite with the bookies, who is hotly tipped to win after gaining 67 votes in the first round ballot.

Using the slogan PM4PM, Mr Gray said: "I will be supporting Penny this week and doing what I can to help her campaign.

"I very much hope that she will win through the complex electoral system; and that she will then start her campaign in the wider world with a dinner in North Wiltshire a week on Friday."

In today's first round vote, new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt were knocked out of the race after failing to obtain the required 30 votes to go through.

Ms Mordaunt's chief rival, Rishi Sunak, got off to a flying start after topping the first round ballot with 88 votes.

He is being backed by South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison and Salisbury MP John Glen.

The second round ballot takes place tomorrow (Thursday).

Mr Sunak is tipped at 7/2 to win by the bookies, slightly ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at 15/4, who got 50 votes in the first round.

The bad news for Mr Sunak is that a poll of Tory Party activists has revealed that the Westminster frontrunner could lose to both Ms Mordaunt and Ms Truss in a head-to-head final run-off ballot.

YouGov research has suggested that Ms Mordaunt is the overwhelming favourite of party members.

Its poll results suggest that Ms Mordaunt would defeat any competitor in a run-off after initially being thought of as a relative outsider.

Her margin against Mr Sunak is projected to be 67 per cent to 28 per cent, while the former Chancellor could lose 59 per cent to 25 per cent against Ms Truss.

The dramatic poll result could blow the race wide open and cause some of the Wiltshire MPs, particularly Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan and Devizes MP Danny Kruger, to rethink who they intend to support.

Mr Kruger is backing Attorney General Suella Braverman, who only just scraped through the first round ballot, while Miss Donelan backed her former boss Mr Zahawi.

Sadly, the betting odds for the Liberal Democrat Party leader Ed Davey and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer are long – they are both at 100/1 to land the keys to No.10.