We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Liz Truss PA
Tory leadership race

Truss allies deny ‘black ops’ campaign against Mordaunt as Tory leadership race heats up

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is bidding to consolidate and increase support from the right of the Tory party, in the face of a surge by Penny Mordaunt.

ALLIES OF LIZ Truss have denied involvement in a “black ops” campaign against rival Penny Mordaunt, as the race to replace Boris Johnson becomes increasingly bitter.

The Foreign Secretary is bidding to consolidate and increase support from the right of the Conservative Party in the leadership contest, in the face of a surge by the trade minister.

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, came out on top of Thursday’s voting, and in second was Ms Mordaunt, who was bearing the brunt of the attacks from rival camps as she gained the most momentum.

Transport minister and Truss backer Wendy Morton, appearing on Times Radio, said she is “absolutely not” involved in any kind of untoward campaign.

Former Cabinet minister David Davis, a supporter of Ms Mordaunt, had called out “black ops” being directed at her.
embedded267866176 Penny Mordaunt at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Morton said: “What I am involved in is a campaign to get Liz Truss elected as the next leader of the Conservative Party because I happen to think, I know, that she’s the right candidate.

“I worked with her at the Foreign Office and I saw first hand how hard-working she is, how dedicated she is, and how she just gets on with the job and she delivers.”

She said the Truss camp is not concerned about the lead Ms Mordaunt has maintained in the first two ballots, indicating hopes that Tory MPs might get behind her candidate.

Braverman backs Truss

Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, came out in support of Ms Truss after being eliminated from the contest.

She fared the worst in the second round of voting and was eliminated to leave five contenders who will take part in the first televised debate on Friday evening.

Ms Braverman described Truss as the “best person to unleash the opportunities of Brexit” and deliver tax cuts, as the right of the party seeks to rally round a single candidate.

politics-tories Press Association Images Press Association Images

Taking influential Tory Steve Baker’s vote with her, it was a blow to Kemi Badenoch, who was facing pressure to pull out and back Ms Truss to keep Mr Sunak or Ms Mordaunt out of No 10.

Sources close to Ms Braverman told the PA news agency she made the decision after holding talks with Ms Truss.

In a statement, the Attorney General said: “Liz is the best person to unleash the opportunities of Brexit, and deliver much needed tax cuts.

“I’m confident she will defend free speech, champion equality of opportunity and take a robust line on illegal immigration.”

Mordaunt under fire

Ms Mordaunt has faced a scathing attack from former Brexit minister Lord Frost, who also urged Ms Badenoch to pull out of the Tory leadership contest so there can be “unity among free marketeers”.

Lord Frost, seen as an influential figure about the Tory Party grassroots, described Ms Mordaunt as “absent on parade” when he worked with her on post-Brexit negotiations last year.

Mordaunt has defended her comparative lack of Cabinet experience.

“I have a lot of experience, and broad experience, as well.”

The trade minister said she had both domestic and international-facing roles across various departments and multiple governments.

Ms Mordaunt declined to criticise the record of the Boris Johnson administration, but said that “people want us to deliver”.

Tory MP Dame Maria Miller, pressed on whether Ms Mordaunt could fall victim to dirty tactics as she seeks to replace Mr Johnson, said her candidate wanted a positive campaign.

“Penny’s support among Members of Parliament has grown, and that is the same throughout the country,” Miller told Sky News.

She said polling is showing that her “support base is growing”.

“It is just about getting a new leader.”

Miller shrugged off the criticism from Lord Frost.

Sunak leads after second ballot

Mr Sunak picked up 101 votes in the second ballot, Ms Mordaunt 83, Ms Truss 64, Ms Badenoch 49 and Tom Tugendhat 32.

Mr Tugendhat, despite dropping five votes, insisted he would not quit the race as the remaining contenders progress to a round of televised debates.

“I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t plan to start now,” the senior backbencher said.

embedded267884100 The five candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race, (top row left to right), Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch (UK Parliament/PA)

His allies are hoping that his fortunes can be reversed by a strong performance in the TV debates over the coming days, with backer Tory MP Jake Berry stressing that it will be a “key weekend” for his candidate.

Ms Badenoch’s campaign, however, has also said she is “in it to win”.

Channel 4 said all five candidates have confirmed they will take part in its debate on Friday night, with further televised clashes scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday.

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.

Their choice of the next prime minister will be announced on 5 September.

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

Press Association
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel