Tory leadership race ‘most vicious’ yet says Rigby
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Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak won the most votes in the second round of voting to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister, as one candidate was eliminated. Mr Sunak came top with 101 votes, followed by junior trade minister and bookmakers’ favourite Penny Mordaunt on 83 votes and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on 64 votes. Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated with 27 votes. Sky News political editor Beth Rigby said it is “wide open” for all contenders.
Ms Rigby said: “The most confidence I would be in any of it is to say that Rishi Sunak looks that he will go through to the final two because he’s got a lot of cabinet backers.
“A lot of serious politicians in the party think he is the horse to back.
“But as for who becomes the next Prime Minister, it is really wide open and it wasn’t like that in 2019 with Boris Johnson. He was nailed on pretty much from the start.
“It was similar with Theresa May back in 2017 which is what makes this race so fascinating but I also think it’s what makes this race so vicious.”
She added: “What was interesting at the Liz Truss today as she was asked about Penny Mordaunt and her being a block on her.
“She was asked about some of the negative briefings; Lord Frost going on TV to openly criticise Penny Mordaunt as someone who wasn’t up for the job.
“Liz Truss said I want to run a clean campaign. Penny Mordaunt said yesterday at her launch ‘I want to run a clean campaign’.
“But I think it’s fair to say you can see the guns are lining up on Penny Mordaunt at the moment and why wouldn’t they?
David Davis outlines Penny Mordaunt's strength in winning seats
“She is the biggest threat to both Liz Truss not getting to the final two and the Sunak camp because she could leapfrog over him
“It’s been getting more pleasant. There have been lots of briefings against the Mordaunt camp in the last 24 hours. I have to say it will only get worse over the weekend.”
Ms Mordaunt has come under fire from allies of Liz Truss as the Tory leadership contest became increasingly bitter.
The trade minister came second in the first round of voting, pushing Foreign Secretary Ms Truss into third place.
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Mr Sunak claimed the top spot but the battle to reach the final stage of the contest – which will see the two candidates chosen by MPs face a vote of the membership – is far from over.
Ms Mordaunt’s strong performance saw her claim 67 votes, 17 more than Ms Truss, with Mr Sunak picking up the support of 88 MPs.
Strong opinion polling also buoyed Ms Mordaunt’s campaign, pushing her into the status of bookmakers’ favourite to become the next Tory leader and prime minister.
But supporters of Ms Truss seized on a scathing attack on Ms Mordaunt from former Brexit minister Lord Frost.
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