Five left standing in Tory leadership race – and now, they’ll go head-to-head in live TV debates

UK

The five remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership race are preparing to go head-to-head in live TV debates.

It comes after Rishi Sunak came out on top in yesterday’s ballot of Tory MPs – with Penny Mordaunt second and Liz Truss third.

Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat are also still in the running, but Suella Braverman was knocked out.

Leadership rivals will face off in a live programme on Channel 4 later, with another taking place on Sunday.

And Sky News will be hosting a debate on Tuesday night at 8pm – after more candidates have been eliminated through further rounds of voting in Westminster.

The final two leadership hopefuls will emerge by the end of next week and then face a summer of hustings – with Conservative Party members getting the chance to decide who should become the next prime minister.

A winner will be announced on 5 September.

More on Conservatives

Here’s a look at the results of yesterday’s vote among Tory MPs – including how many supporters each candidate had:

Round 2 results
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Round 2 results

Braverman backs Truss

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is hoping to attract additional support from the Tory right following the elimination of Attorney General Suella Braverman.

And last night, Ms Truss won her endorsement – with Ms Braverman declaring she would be “the strong guardian of Brexit promises”.

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost also appealed to Ms Badenoch to stand aside for the foreign secretary, calling for “unity among free marketeers”.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who fell at the first round of votes, pledged his support to Mr Sunak.

But Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who was also kicked out in the first round, has yet to pin his colours to any mast.

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Tory candidates whittled down to five

Candidates thank their supporters

Reacting to receiving the most votes for a second time, Mr Sunak said he was “incredibly grateful” for the support of Tory MPs.

He tweeted: “I am prepared to give everything I have in service to our nation. Together we can restore trust, rebuild our economy and reunite the country.”

Meanwhile, Ms Truss’s leadership election team said: “Now is the time for MPs to unite behind the candidate who will cut taxes, deliver the real economic change we need, continue to deliver the benefits of Brexit and ensure Putin loses in Ukraine.”

Ms Mordaunt tweeted out another thank you video to her supporters, saying: “Together we’re going to make a real difference.”

And Ms Badenoch said she was “delighted that a growing number of my colleagues have faith in my vision for a return to honest politics and conservative principles”.

Mr Tugendhat insisted he would not pull out of the contest despite dropping five votes since the first round, tweeting: “I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t plan to start now.”

British Attorney General and Conservative leadership candidate Suella Braverman attends the Conservative Way Forward launch event in London, Britain, July 11, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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Suella Braverman was the latest to be kicked out of the leadership contest

Labour calls for general election

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said a general election is needed to ensure “fundamental change”.

“I don’t think the answer to the stagnation of the last 12 years is to change the candidate or the leader of the Tory Party,” he told reporters.

The leadership contest was triggered after Boris Johnson announced his resignation last Thursday.

His announcement followed an avalanche of ministers stepping down over his handling of the disgraced MP Chris Pincher, and accusations he had lied about what he knew of the former deputy chief whip’s inappropriate behaviour.

Mr Johnson remains in Number 10 as a caretaker prime minister while the contest is carried out.

Labour has been pushing for the PM to go immediately, attempting to call a confidence vote in him and the government.

Instead, the government has called a confidence vote in itself, allowing it to set the wording to make it easier for Tory critics of Mr Johnson to vote in favour.

Sky News is hosting a live TV debate with the contenders vying to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore prime minister, and you could be in the virtual audience.

The debate will take place on Tuesday 19 July at 8pm.

If you would like to be a member of the virtual audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please email NewsDebates@sky.uk.

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