Kemi Badenoch locked in talks to lure MPs from rival candidates before final run-off

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Undated file handout UK Parliament official portrait of Kemi Badenoch, minister of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, who has resigned her post over Boris Johnson's leadership. Issue date: Wednesday July 6, 2022. PA Photo. Boris Johnson has been left trying to save his premiership after a pair of Cabinet resignations and a series of Government exits threatened to force him from Number 10. Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor on Tuesday, alongside Sajid Javid who resigned as health secretary, in a move that came just as the Prime Minister was being forced into a humiliating apology to address the row over scandal-hit former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher. See PA story POLITICS Johnson. Photo credit should read: UK Parliament/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

KEMI Badenoch was last night locked in talks to lure MPs from rival Tory leadership camps as she made a late dash for the final run-off.

The ex-minister, 42, held multiple calls and exchanged messages with colleagues.

Kemi Badenoch was last night locked in talks to lure MPs to back her

Conversations are being held with supporters of Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat

Conversations are being held with supporters of Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat and also undeclared candidates before tomorrow’s knock-out stage.

The contender said she has had “loads of calls” with “people coming over”, suggesting some backing for rivals could be fragile.

The support was “from everywhere”, she added.

Ms Badenoch was level with Ms Mordaunt in a snap poll after Friday night’s TV debate and ahead of Ms Truss.

She also hit out at Lord Frost who urged her to stand aside and back Truss to avoid the Tory right from being splintered.

Frost said now was the time for “pragmatism” and she should stand down in exchange for a serious job with the current Foreign Secretary.

But Badenoch said: “I think actually some of the stuff in the press asking me to withdraw has backfired quite badly.”

She added: “Why should anyone be asked to withdraw especially as I’m not last..I’m not last, it’s all to play for.”

Her appearance on TV on Friday night was dogged by a cough that she picked up last month while on a Ministerial levelling up trip.

Defence Minister Leo Docherty said: “Kemi knows we could be driving growth and improving the quality of life.”