CONSERVATIVE MPs across the country are declaring who they are backing to be Prime Minister and the political party's new leader.

The second leadership race in a matter of months was sparked following Liz Truss's decision to step down.

Ms Truss formally called an end to her short premiership in a Downing Street statement on Thursday afternoon.

At present only leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has officially declared her bid to become the next Prime Minister.

However, scores of MPs have thrown their weight behind former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Leadership candidates must obtain nominations from at least 100 Tory MPs on Monday to be on the ballot.

The majority of MPs for Dorset have confirmed who there are backing.

Bournemouth East - Tobias Ellwood

Bournemouth Echo: Tobias EllwoodTobias Ellwood

The former defence minister, who recently regained the party whip, has said he wants Mr Sunak to take charge.

Mr Ellwood confirmed his support on Friday night, with multiple reports suggesting he was around the 100th MP to publicly back the MP for Richmond.

Sharing a tweet from Lord David Frost supporting Mr Sunak, the Bournemouth East MP said: "Team Rishi is progressively gaining ever wider consensus that’s vital if we are to unite and re-group as one Conservative Party."

Christchurch - Sir Christopher Chope

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Christopher ChopeSir Christopher Chope

Veteran politician Sir Christopher hit out at his colleagues who he believed brought Ms Truss's premiership to an end.

The backbench MP has told the Daily Echo he has submitted his nomination for Mr Johnson to return to Number 10 Downing Street.

Asked why he was backing Mr Johnson, Sir Christopher said: "Because I backed him before and I did not think he should have been deposed and I didn't think Liz Truss should have been deposed.

"He is the only person who has a mandate to be our Prime Minister because he was elected in 2019 with an 80-seat majority and before that he was elected overwhelmingly by the Conservative parliamentary party and the membership.

"None of the other candidates has a mandate. If anybody other than Boris Johnson were to win, they would need to go to the country and hold a general election.

"The Conservative parliamentary party has shown itself to be incapable of supporting anybody who has not got a mandate."

Poole - Sir Robert Syms

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Robert SymsSir Robert Syms

Mr Sunak had Sir Robert's support in the previous leadership campaign and he has been able to rely on it once again.

Declaring his support on social media on Friday, October 21, the Poole MP said: "My view is that the best candidate to lead the Conservative Party is Rishi and I am happy to nominate him for the contest."

Mid Dorset and North Poole - Michael Tomlinson

Bournemouth Echo: Michael TomlinsonMichael Tomlinson

In the initial 48 hours after Ms Truss's announcement Mr Tomlinson had remained quiet on who he was backing.

However, in response to an approach for comment from the Daily Echo, he said he would be backing Mr Sunak.

Mr Tomlinson is currently part of the government in his role as Solicitor General, having previously been in the whips office for two years.

North Dorset - Simon Hoare

Bournemouth Echo: Simon HoareSimon Hoare

In one of the more unsurprising declarations of support, Simon Hoare is also in Mr Sunak's growing team of backers.

He was very critical of Mr Johnson when his premiership came to an end in July.

During the head-to-head race with Ms truss, Mr Hoare welcomed Mr Sunak to an event in Sturminster Newton, where he met party members at several engagements.

Posting on Twitter on Friday afternoon, Mr Hoare said: "To rebuild trust and deliver for the UK, my party needs to elect a leader who is seen as being competent, sensible and serious. That leader is Rishi Sunak."

Earlier, the chair of the Northern Ireland select committee said: "My sincere anxiety/fear is that Boris Johnson simply has too much baggage and “history” to ever allow the country, government and party to move on and look forward.

"He made too many mistakes. We need a new, fresh chapter. We need and want Rishi Sunak."

New Forest West - Sir Desmond Swayne

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Desmond SwayneSir Desmond Swayne

Following the events in Westminster on Thursday, Sir Desmond said would "need to reflect and realign to the metaphysical plane over the weekend".

In the summer leadership campaign he had backed Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch.

This time around he has confirmed to the Daily Echo he is endorsing Mr Sunak. Going public with his position, Sir Desmond posted a link to his candidate's campaign website.

South Dorset - Richard Drax

The experienced political figure has been a supporter of Mr Johnson previously and he is backing him again in the latest leadership race.

Mr Drax said he was endorsing the only candidate with a mandate to lead the party and county.

"He’s done his time in the sin bin and it’s time for him to return, select the best team we have around him, and get on with governing the country," said Mr Drax.

"We need grown-up government and those chosen to lead must step up to the plate, forget their differences, unite and take the country forward through some very challenging times.”

Bournemouth West - Conor Burns

Bournemouth Echo: Conor BurnsConor Burns

Mr Burns is currently suspended as a Conservative MP and he has not made any public comments on a favoured leadership candidate.

Earlier this year, he did not declare public support for any MP to be Mr Johnson's successor.

Following Ms Truss's statement on Thursday, he posted on Twitter: "I wish MPs would stop with ‘there is only one’ etc nonsense.

"Back your candidate by all means but we have to get behind whoever wins for the sake of the country our party exists to serve. And there are several colleagues who could make an excellent Prime Minister and leader."