Tory leadership race nears final stage as two candidates to be selected for membership vote

Tory leadership race nears final stage as two candidates to be selected for membership vote
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Tom Evans

By Tom Evans

Published: 20/07/2022

- 08:10

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:49

Conservative Party MPs are poised to select the final two candidates who will stand in the race to be the next Prime Minister today

While Rishi Sunak looks almost certain to reach the final stage, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt are battling to win over Kemi Badenoch’s supporters after she was knocked out of the contest.

The Foreign Secretary enjoyed a surge in support in the penultimate ballot, putting her within touching distance of Ms Mordaunt.

The momentum of her latest result now puts her favourite to face Mr Sunak in the head-to-head competition to win a ballot of Tory members, with that result being announced on September 5.

The candidates are battling to replace Boris Johnson, who will face his final session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the Commons at noon.

Ms Truss picked up 15 votes to command the support of 86 Tory MPs on Tuesday, after 31 votes were freed up by the elimination of Tom Tugendhat a day earlier.

Ms Mordaunt increased her share by 10 to sit on 92, while Mr Sunak gained an extra three votes to put him on 118, just shy of the number effectively guaranteeing him entry to the final phase.

Ms Badenoch came last in the ballot on 59 votes, with Ms Truss believed to be more likely to pick up a significant number of those votes than Ms Mordaunt.

Rival campaigns accused one another of transferring votes in a bid to boost their own positions, with David Davis, a backer of Ms Mordaunt, saying it was the “dirtiest campaign” he had ever seen.

Mr Sunak, the former Chancellor, received a blow in the latest limited polling of the party membership, which forecast he would lose against both of his remaining rivals in the run-off.

Ms Mordaunt, the trade minister, said: “We are so nearly across the finish line. I am raring to go and excited to put my case to members across the country and win.”

She thanked Ms Badenoch, the former equalities minister, and praised her “fresh thinking and bold policies” in a possible pitch to begin winning over her now-floating voters.

Who the Tory membership favours is hard to judge because of the low levels of participation in existing polling.

But a YouGov survey of 725 party members on Monday and Tuesday saw Mr Sunak losing against all of his remaining rivals by large margins.

The survey put Ms Truss beating Mr Sunak by 54 to 35 and Ms Mordaunt beating him 51 to 37.

Ms Mordaunt, who had been put ahead in recent weeks, was losing to both Ms Truss and Ms Badenoch in head-to-heads by narrow margins.

Sir Graham Brady (third from left) chairman of the 1922 Committee, announces the results of the fourth ballot round in the Conservative Party leadership contest, in the Houses of Parliament, London. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2022.
Sir Graham Brady has overseen the Tory leadership race
Stefan Rousseau

The current size of the Conservative membership is unknown, but at the last leadership election in 2019 there were around 160,000 members, and insiders expect it to have grown, meaning the polling is not representative of the party.

A spokeswoman for the Truss campaign said: “Now is the time for the party to unite behind a candidate who will govern in a Conservative way and who has shown she can deliver time and again.”

UK Parliament handout photos of the three candidates left in the Conservative Party leadership race, (top row left to right), Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt who are vying to replace Boris Johnson after Kemi Badenoch was eliminated in the latest ballot on Tuesday. Issue date: Tuesday July 19, 2022.
Tory leadership: Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt remain in the race
UK Parliament

Conservative leadership election, fourth ballot. See story POLITICS Tories. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact
Tory leadership race: Results from the fourth ballot
PA Graphics

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