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battle for no 10

Tory leadership race: Sunak on top after second round of voting with Braverman eliminated

Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt are the two to beat.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 14th 2022, 4:18 PM

FORMER UK CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has come out on top in the second round of voting in the Tory leadership contest, with trade minister Penny Mordaunt once again in second place and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in third.

Suella Braverman has been eliminated after finishing last.

The other candidates that remain in the contest are equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and MP Tom Tugendhat.

A further ballot will be held on Monday, but before then the candidates will go head-to-head in TV debates.

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Mr Sunak picked up 101 votes, Ms Mordaunt 83, Ms Truss 64, Kemi Badenoch 49 and Tom Tugendhat 32.

Ms Braverman had 27 votes, five fewer than she had in Wednesday’s first round of the contest despite the field being smaller on Thursday.

Mr Tugendhat also dropped five votes, but his team insisted he would not quit the race.

Ms Mordaunt gained the most votes, putting on 16 from Wednesday’s total.

Mr Sunak put on an extra 13 votes and is closing in on the 120 votes required to guarantee a place in the final two, who will face a vote of the Tory membership to decide the next party leader and prime minister.

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Ms Truss, who had a campaign launch speech earlier on Thursday, gained 14 votes, but will hope that she can serve as a standard-bearer for the party’s right, picking up supporters from not only Ms Braverman but also Ms Badenoch – who is under pressure from the Foreign Secretary’s allies to pull out of the contest.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, a Truss supporter, said: “Now is the time for us all to unite behind a candidate who actually has the ability to lead the country as PM.”

The contest became particularly vicious on Thursday, with allies of Ms Truss seizing on comments from former Brexit minister Lord Frost about Ms Mordaunt’s competence.

He told TalkTV: “She was my deputy – notionally, more than really – in the Brexit talks last year.

“I felt she did not master the detail that was necessary in the negotiations last year. She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary.

“She wasn’t fully accountable, she wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was. This became such a problem that, after six months, I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on and find somebody else to support me.”

Allies of Ms Mordaunt said she had “nothing but respect” for Lord Frost despite his scathing attack on her.

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A source in the Mordaunt campaign said: “Penny will always fight for Brexit and always has.”

But the former minister’s remarks were highlighted by the Truss campaign, with Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clarke saying: “Lord Frost’s warning is a really serious one. Conservatives – and far more importantly our country – need a leader who is tested and ready.”

Mr Clarke told Sky News: “It is telling, I think, where current members of the Government are placing their support.

“That is reflected in a number of very senior ministers’ decisions about who to support in this race – they are not backing Ms Mordaunt.”

Former cabinet minister David Davis, a supporter of Ms Mordaunt, criticised the “black ops” being directed at her.

“I wouldn’t describe it as friendly fire,” he said. “It’s absolutely clockwork – you get to the point that somebody gets ahead and looks to be the real challenger and then the black op starts, the incoming fire starts.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak insisted his wealth and background in international finance do not bar him from understanding the plight of hard-pressed households.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t judge people by their bank accounts, I judge them by their character, and I think people can judge me by my actions over the past couple of years.”

Mr Sunak defended his economic plan, which would not involve the immediate tax cuts promised by his rivals.

“I will get taxes down in this Parliament, but I’m going to do so responsibly,” he said.

“Because I don’t cut taxes to win elections, I win elections to cut taxes, and I’m convinced that I’m the best person to beat Keir Starmer and the Labour Party at the next election.”

Television debates are scheduled for Friday, Sunday and Monday although it is unclear whether all candidates will turn up.

The next round of voting is due on Monday, with subsequent rounds if required until two candidates are left, who will then battle it out over the summer to win the support of Conservative members, with their choice of the next prime minister being unveiled on September 5.

Boris Johnson will then formally tender his resignation to the Queen to make way for his successor the following day.

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