Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Boost for Liz Truss in Tory leadership race stokes claims of tactical votes

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The Secretary of State was not expected to receive many votes in this vote

Veteran Westminster observers and several insiders firmly believed Liz Truss would struggle to gain ground in this round of voting as the more dovish supporters of Tom Tugendhat, who was eliminated on Monday, would fall behind Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.

In a roller-coaster ride of a Conservative leadership struggle, all predictions about how the final round of voting would go proved futile.

Instead, Team Truss, which has constantly sought to appeal to party rights, saw their support rise by 15 votes, taking them to 86 MPs and just six behind Ms Mordaunt.

The Mordaunt camp was buoyed when she received 10 more votes, taking her to 92 MPs, but the momentum now appears to be with Ms Truss in chasing the final runoff against Mr Sunak.

A significant proportion of Kemi Badenoch’s supporters, who rose by just one to 59 in Tuesday’s vote and were eliminated, are expected to support Ms Truss in Wednesday’s final vote.

Most importantly, the results of this fourth and penultimate MP election showed the full extent of the tactical voting taking place in this competition and will do little to dispel rumors that Team Sunak is lending its support to other camps.

If true, then it suggests the former Chancellor’s camp believes they have a better chance of defeating Ms Truss than they do on Ms Mordaunt.

It was widely expected that Mr. Sunak would gather the five votes he needed to reach the magic 120, effectively guaranteeing his way into the last two. Instead, he only picked up three, fueling speculation he’s trying to manipulate who he’s up against when that competition goes to membership.

Whether that turns out to be a wise calculation remains to be seen, but not for the first time polls have shown the 42-year-old to be the worst-performing member against both Ms Mordaunt and the Foreign Secretary.

A poll of YouGov Tory members found 37 per cent backed Mr Sunak versus 51 per cent in support of Ms Mordaunt, while he fared even worse against Ms Truss, who had 54 per cent of campaigners backing, compared with just 35 per cent in favor of Mr Sunak .

Tuesday’s polls suggest he has chosen Ms Truss as his favorite competitor, but as this wide-open race for the lead has shown, all that could change in Wednesday’s final fight.

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