PENNY Mordaunt dropped a vote in tonight’s third Tory leadership ballot as Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch gained ground and Tom Tugendhat crashed out.
Rishi Sunak continued to lead the field and looks set to breeze into the final two after winning 115 Conservative MPs.
Rishi Sunak has maintained his lead in the race to be Prime Minister while Liz Truss has tightened the gap between herself and Penny Mordaunt
Tom Tugendhat was knocked out of the Tory leadership race tonight after receiving the least amount of MP votes
The pack of wannabe PMs was cut down from five to four after lagging ex-soldier Mr Tugendhat failed to catch his rivals.
Ms Truss and Ms Mordaunt are furiously jostling to challenge him in the vote of Conservative MPs.
Wildcard Tory Kemi Badenoch is nipping at their heels and hoping to leapfrog them both after mopping up more backers tonight.
Foreign Secretary Ms Truss surged forward tonight after hoovering up supporters from defeated right-winger Suella Braverman.
The born-again Brexiteer has boosted her campaign by love-bombing Tory Eurosceptic with tax cuts and Thatcherite pledges.
Today she received a key endorsement from influential right winger Sir John Redwood.
Ms Badenoch also picked up support but will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to gain enough votes to survive tomorrow’s ballot.
Big-hitter backer Michael Gove tonight implored colleagues to swing behind Ms Badenoch as the best choice for the top job.
In a glowing endorsement he told LBC: “Of all of the people who worked with me in a department that I ran, Kemi was undoubtedly the outstanding minister.”
He added that some Tory MPs have “buyer’s remorse” and could switch to back Ms Badenoch.
One Braverman backer – Sir John Hayes – today did come out to declare for Ms Badenoch.
As London sizzled today so too did the contest for the Conservative crown.
The five remaining candidates laid out their stalls at two separate hustings where they made last-gasp bids for support.
But the final leadership debate scheduled to air on Sky News tomorrow night was cancelled after Mr Sunak and Ms Truss dropped out.
Team Truss said the Foreign Secretary is focused on the MPs hustings, but “will do any debate that all other candidates sign up to”.
Tomorrow the final four will do everything they can to win over the support of Tugendhat’s backers.
The backbencher’s support base comprises MPs from across the Tory ideological spectrum and so are all to play for.
Mr Johnson tonight roused the Tory benches in Parliament with a tub-thumping speech rattling through his greatest hits as PM.
Trumpeting his historic 2019 victory that crushed Labour in their Red Wall backyard, he triumphantly declared: “We sent the great blue Tory ferret so far up their trouser leg they couldn’t move.”
He admitted he may now be more popular in Kyiv than in Kensington after leading the Western response against Putin.
The outgoing PM proudly insisted : “We’ve had to take some of the bleakest decisions since the war and I believe that we got the big calls right.”
Spluttering Sir Keir Starmer was left briefly stuck as fired-up Tories drowned out his attacks on the PM.
The pair locked horns for one of the final times during the Commons vote of confidence in the government.
Mr Johnson was expected to win the late night vote with the support of Conservative MPs.
THE FINAL 4 – WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT ARE THEY PROMISING?
Key pitch: No tax cuts until inflation under control
The former Chancellor has laid out his stall as the candidate for economic responsibility while rivals go gung-ho on tax cuts.
He has promised to cut taxes only when inflation has been brought under control, warning to do so now would just hike prices higher.
- Cut taxes when inflation is down and public finances are repaired
- Plough on with the planned rise to 25 per cent corporation tax
- Keep the Rwanda immigration policy to cut small boats crossings
- Keep defence spending at current levels with no increase
- Publish a manifesto to protect women’s rights
- Open the door to scrapping the BBC Licence Fee in the future
Key pitch: Pull funding for Mickey Mouse degrees
Rising star Kemi Badenoch has signalled she wants tax cuts but is refusing to enter the “bidding war” among candidates to slash them the most.
Instead she is serving up a platter of red meat policies that are going down a storm with many Tory MPs.
- Cut taxes and rein in spending
- Opposes Net Zero 2050 target
- Open to the withdrawal from the Euro court
- Reduce funding for Mickey Mouse degrees
- Scrap the Online Harms Bill
- Reduce the amount spent on foreign aid
Key pitch: Tax cuts on day one as PM
Liz Truss is also pledging to cut taxes on her first day in office if she wins the contest.
The Foreign Secretary – who is yet to formally launch her campaign – has also vowed to publicly recognise China’s persecution of Uighurs as a genocide.
- Reverse NICs hike and cut taxes from day one
- Reform the Euro court and leave altogether if not possible
- Publicly recognise the genocide in China
- Reduce the size of the state in comparison to the private sector
Key pitch: Halve VAT on fuel immediately
The Trade Minister says she is the candidate that Labour would fear most in a general election.
She has promised to slash taxes and help families by solving the childcare crisis.
- Immediate 50% cut to fuel duty
- Establish a taskforce to address the “paralysis” in the NHS
- Appoint a cabinet minister with responsibility for family policies
- Repeal 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars
Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch have all made the top four in the Tory race to be PM