Analysis: Liz Truss Now Favourite To Face Rishi Sunak In The Tory Leadership Run-Off

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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss clashed in ITV's leadership debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss clashed in ITV's leadership debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss clashed in ITV's leadership debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)

Time to stock up on industrial quantities of popcorn, people.

She may have come third once again in the latest Tory leadership ballot, but Liz Truss seems to have timed her run perfectly.

With the bulk of Kemi Badenoch’s supporters likely to give their backing to the foreign secretary in tomorrow’s final round, it would be a brave punter who bet against her making it into the run-off against Rishi Sunak.

And, if the pair’s performance in the last TV debate is any guide, it means we are in for a highly enjoyable six weeks of bitter in-fighting before the winner in announced on September 5.

That’s not to say that Penny Mordaunt, who has come second behind Sunak in every ballot so far, and who saw her support increase by 10 votes today, is out of the running.

But the greater momentum is now with Truss, who scooped up an additional 15 votes compared to the previous round and is now just six behind her rival.

Unsurprisingly, the love-bombing of Badenoch has already begun from both the Truss and Mordaunt camp as they seek to win her endorsement.

“I want to pay tribute to my friend Kemi Badenoch, who electrified the leadership contest with her fresh thinking and bold policies,” said Mordaunt.

“She and I both know that the old way of government isn’t working as it should. Voters want change and we owe it to them to offer a bold new vision for this country. Kemi’s passion for this showed and I’m glad she put herself forward to be heard.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Truss chipped in: “Kemi Badenoch has run a fantastic campaign and contributed enormously to the battle of ideas throughout this contest.

“Now is the time for the party to unite behind a candidate who will govern in a Conservative way and who has shown she can deliver time and again.”

That was a none-too-subtle pitch for MPs on the right of the Tory party, who may have supported Badenoch and Suella Braverman in previous rounds, to now hitch their wagon to Truss.

The only thing that could probably scupper Truss now would be if Sunak supporters lent their votes to Mordaunt in the final ballot in an attempt to keep her out of the run-off.

But are they really going to do that when their man is still to get over the finishing line himself?

Whatever the outcome tomorrow, we are guaranteed a summer-long battle, not just for the keys to No.10, but for the soul of the Conservative Party itself.

And the biggest winner could well end up being Labour leader Keir Starmer

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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