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Tory leadership race latest LIVE: Rishi Sunak in early lead over Boris Johnson in race to be next PM


R

ishi Sunak on Friday gained the early momentum over Boris Johnson in the race to be Britain’s next Prime Minister.

At least 10 more MPs publicly declared for the ex-Chancellor in the morning.

The new backings put his public support above 50, and greater than that for Mr Johnson.

Even once whips and other party figures, who have to remain publicly neutral, are included, Mr Sunak was believed to be narrowly ahead of the former Prime Minister.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt was trailing Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson by a significant margin.

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Writing on Twitter shortly before 11.30am, former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, said: “I believe @RishiSunak is the best person to take the Conservative party and, most importantly, the country forward. He has the talent, integrity, and humility necessary to provide us with a fresh start and a steady hand. I am proud to support him.”

Former Cabinet minister Liam Fox also announced his backing for Mr Sunak, saying his “economic judgement, energy and optimism” are what our party and our country need to secure a better future.”

Meanwhile Defence Secretary Ben Wallace added a significant endorsement to Boris Johnson’s potential candidacy when he announced shortly after midday he will not be entering the race himself, and instead “leans towards” Mr Johnson who he says can “win elections”

No candidate has formally declared a bid to enter the contest to be the next Tory leader, and PM, but early momentum is often crucial to win over wavering MPs.

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Rishi moves into early lead against Boris in race to be next PM

More MPs have declared they back Rishi Sunak in the race to be Britain’s next Prime Minister – putting his public support above 50, and greater than that for Boris Johnson.

Even once whips and other party figures, who have to remain publicly neutral, are included, Mr Sunak is believed to be narrowly ahead of the former Prime Minister.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt is trailing Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson by a significant margin.

Among 10 more MPs who announced their support for Mr Sunak this morning are former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson, former Cabinet minister Liam Fox, Poole MP Sir Roberts Syms and Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes.

Mr Williamson wrote on Twitter: “I believe @RishiSunak is the best person to take the Conservative party and, most importantly, the country forward. He has the talent, integrity, and humility necessary to provide us with a fresh start and a steady hand. I am proud to support him.”

Dr Fox, MP for North Somerset, said he is supporting Mr Sunak as his “economic judgement, energy and optimism are what our party and our country need to secure a better future.”

No candidate has yet formally declared a bid to enter the contest to become the next Tory leader, and PM, but early momentum is often crucial to win over MPs who are on the fence.

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Labour MP resigns over ‘serious sexual misconduct’

In breaking news from outside the Tory leadership race, a Labour MP has resigned after Westminster’s Independent Expert Panel recommended he should be suspended for “serious sexual misconduct”.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two allegations of sexual misconduct against Christian Matheson by a former member of his staff.

Mr Matheson, who was elected in 2015, denies serious sexual misconduct but has today resigned as MP for the City of Chester, after the Labour party stripped him of the whip and asked him to step down following the commissioner’s conclusion.

Read the full story here.

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The Lib Dems are attempting to block Boris Johnson from becoming Prime Minister…

The Liberal Democrats have launched a bid to block Boris Johnson from becoming prime minister again.

The party has tabled a motion in Parliament that seeks to stop MPs found to have broken the law while in government from getting into No 10.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Conservative MPs are flocking to support yet another disgraced prime minister.

“The British public will never forget the way Boris Johnson repeatedly lied to them over his Covid lawbreaking. Partygate and the subsequent cover up proved he is unfit to govern this great country.”

Following Met Police investigations into parties held in breach of Covid lockdown regulations – dubbed ‘partygate’ – Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie received £50 fines for a surprise birthday bash held for him in Downing Street on June 19, 2020.

Citing both this and the Government’s unlawful failure to protect care home residents during the pandemic, Ms Cooper added: “Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister demonstrated that he simply has no regard for rules or for the general public.

“It is time to end this Conservative party soap opera. People’s mortgage bills are spiralling out of control and local health services are at breaking point. The country deserves better than yet more Conservative chaos and incompetence.”

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Petition calling for a general election passes 300k signatures

A petition calling for a general election has surpassed 308,000 signatures following Liz Truss’s resignation.

Launched by The Independent three days ago, the petition attacks Ms Truss’s 45 days in office – the shortest premiership in UK history.

The online newspaper’s acting editor David Marley says Ms Truss had no mandate to govern the country after winning the leadership election with 81,000 votes from Tory members.

“Who is leading our country should be decided in a general election, not in the strange bubble of yet another Conservative leadership election,” he writes.

“It is time for voters to decide who should govern the country and uphold the democratic principles our governing bodies are built on. For this reason we are calling for a general election now.”

Read more here.

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Watch: Tory MP outlines why he is backing Boris Johnson

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has told BBC Breakfast why he would vote for Boris Johnson, if the former Prime Minister enters the Tory leadership race.

Tory MP backs Boris Johnson to be the next Prime Minister

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Sir Keir ‘surprised’ by Ukraine’s Boris Johnson meme

Sir Keir Starmer said he was “rather surprised” by a now-deleted tweet by the Ukrainian government that appeared to suggest Boris Johnson should be brought back to No10.

Ukraine posted a meme based on the Netflix show Better Call Saul, with a photo of Boris Johnson’s face beside the words ‘better call Boris’, amid speculation the former prime minister might attempt a political comeback.

Labour leader Sir Keir told broadcasters: “I saw that tweet. I was rather surprised by it.

”As far as Ukraine is concerned, my absolute imperative is to make sure that we’re all supporting Ukraine in the face of aggression from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.

“So I was surprised by the tweet, but look, in the circumstances that they face, my absolute focus is on giving Ukraine all the support we possibly can.”

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Labour leader repeats call for general election

Sir Keir Starmer warned against a “revolving door of chaos” as he called again for a general election following the dramatic resignation of Liz Truss.

The Labour leader told broadcasters: “The risk is not a general election. The risk is continuing with this chaos.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

/ PA Wire

Asked if he most fears ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak as a potential successor to Ms Truss, he said: “We’ve got to get away from this idea… the sort of revolving door of chaos, and that we just get the next experiment at the top of the Tory party.

“What matters is what happens to this country. And there’s the contrast: more of this chaos or stability under a Labour government.”

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Stanley Johnson suggests Boris will run, but refuses to confirm

Boris Johnson’s father would not say if the former prime minister was making a political comeback.

Former Conservative MP Stanley Johnson said of his son: “I think he is on a plane as far as I understand it”.

When asked on Good Morning Britain if Mr Johnson was returning from his trip abroad early, his father said: “I can’t tell you”.

Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson

/ AFP via Getty Images

However, in comments suggesting his son would be running for the Tory leadership again, Stanley Johnson told the programme: “I am going to listen to what the candidates have to say – this is the serious point – I will listen to all of them and I will say ‘OK, I think I’m going to support Boris. I am pretty sure I am going to support Boris’.

“I am just speaking now as a voter but I want to be sure that he sticks to the 2019 manifesto.

“I particularly want to be sure, because I am an environmentalist, that he gives a very strong promise not to proceed with (Jacob) Rees-Mogg’s absurd Bill which is coming before the House again next week.”

He said the proposed Bill could lead to the “scrapping of 750 environment laws”.

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Hustings to be held ahead of leadership vote

There will be a hustings for MPs before they begin voting in the Tory leadership contest on Monday, Sir Graham Brady has said.

The chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers confirmed there will be “a parliamentary hustings before the parliamentary votes”.

The first ballot of MPs is to be held between on Monday afternoon – if there are three candidates with the required number of nominations the loser will be eliminated.

Once there are two candidates remaining, an indicative vote will be held so that the party membership know which is the preferred option among MPs before they have their say.

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New Tory leader must be able to unite party, says crossbench peer

The leadership election must be won by someone who can unite the Conservative party, former Cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell said.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme everyone will want to “get this done quickly”, adding that a result by Monday or Tuesday would be helpful.

“It’s got to be clear that that person can unite the Conservative party,” he said.

“You can have the fiscal statement, the budget, but if it involves getting things through the House and the Conservative party are not united – and therefore there’s uncertainty about whether it will go through the House or not – then you don’t get that certainty even if there is a budget statement.”

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