Rishi Sunak faces two major opponents in battle to PM
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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have won the backing of influential Cabinet members in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, as Priti Patel ruled herself out from the battle to win the nominations of Tory MPs. The caretaker Prime Minister’s arch-loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries came out in support of Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, arguing she is the true Brexiteer’s candidate as they seek to block Mr Sunak from entering No 10. Political Editor for the Sun on Sunday David Wooding has warned the former chancellor needs to gain support from Conservative party members as well.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Wooding said: “Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss are the two people he has to watch.
“Probably the two people he doesn’t want on the final ballot paper.
“We had that place of Ken Clarke vs Iain Duncan Smith some time ago where the parliamentary party clearly wanted Ken Clarke to be their next leader and when it went out to grassroots members, they voted for Iain and it all ended in tears.
“It’s important that Rishi Sunak is seen as the right choice for the membership as well as for the MPs.”
Eight contenders will be on the ballot paper when Tory MPs begin voting on Wednesday to elect a successor to Boris Johnson, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, has announced.
Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman all secured the 20 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the contest.
Moments before the announcement in a Commons committee room, former health secretary Sajid Javid said he was pulling out having apparently failed to attract enough support.
Earlier Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that he was abandoning his bid and would be supporting Mr Sunak, the former chancellor.
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Backbencher Rehman Chishti – seen as the rank outsider – also said that he was dropping out having failed to get enough nominations.
Meanwhile Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, gained the endorsement of prominent Boris Johnson loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and James Cleverly, in what was seen as a concerted move to prevent Mr Sunak entering No 10.
Many supporters of the Prime Minister remain furious with Mr Sunak for the role he played in bringing him down, with his decision last week to quit helping to trigger a further slew of resignations.
The Foreign Secretary’s campaign also received a potential fillip with the announcement by Home Secretary Priti Patel, a fellow right winger, that she would not be standing, giving Ms Truss a clearer run.
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Ms Dorries accused Mr Sunak’s team of “dirty tricks” after claims that one of his supporters – ex-chief whip Gavin Williamson – had been trying to “syphon off” votes for Mr Hunt so he would make it to the final run-off with Mr Sunak.
“This is dirty tricks/a stitch up/dark arts. Take your pick. Team Rishi want the candidate they know they can definitely beat in the final two and that is Jeremy Hunt,” she tweeted.
Mr Hunt also said he is “worried” rival Rishi Sunak’s economy policy would lead the country “into recession”.
The Tory leadership candidate told LBC radio: “Rishi Sunak is… increasing corporation tax and it will be higher than not just America or Japan, but France and Germany as well.
“And I’m worried that on our current trajectory, we’re heading into recession, and we’ll be there for too long.”
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