What the hell’s he got to do with it? Blast for Frost as Right puts pressure on Badenoch to quit

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Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has thrown his support behind Liz Truss (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has thrown his support behind Liz Truss (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

A battle between the right of the Tory party over who should be the next Prime Minister escalated on Friday.

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost, who is backing Liz Truss in the race to be Conservative Party leader, said supporters of outsider Kemi Badenoch should now rally around the Foreign Secretary. But senior Tory MP Simon Hoare on Friday blasted the suggestion.

The Conservative chairman of the Northern Ireland affairs committee said: “I don’t wish to be rude but who the hell is an unelected, failed minister to tell any MP what to do? For some unknown reason David Frost perpetually thinks we give a flying f*** what he thinks. We don’t and we won’t.”

Mr Hoare has backed former chancellor Rishi Sunak for the leadership, saying he would bring a “coalition across all viewpoints of the party” and is the candidate who can “build a government of respect, integrity and common-sense professionalism”.

Mr Sunak and international trade minister Penny Mordaunt came top of the ballot of MPs on Thursday, sparking concern among some Right-wing Tories that a candidate from their side of the party will not make it to the final two.

Lord Frost has led attacks against Ms Mordaunt and said he had “grave reservations” about her.

The five candidates MPs are voting for will be whittled down to two next week after a series of TV debates.

The finalists will then be put to the membership, who will vote for the ultimate winner. There have been calls for a pact between Ms Truss, who got 64 votes on Thursday, and Ms Badenoch, who got 49, to ensure that the Foreign Secretary is a contender for PM, while Mr Sunak and Ms Mordaunt’s camps attempt to woo supporters of fifth place Tom Tugendhat for support.

Ms Truss was given a boost when she was backed by Suella Braverman, who crashed out of the race on Thursday.

The Attorney General picked up support from the Right-wing of the party for her low tax promises and commitment to leaving the European Convention on Human Rights. If the 27 MPs who backed Ms Braverman on Thursday move to Ms Truss’ camp then she would be within touching distance of second-placed Ms Mordaunt.

However, some have called into question Ms Truss’s Right-wing credentials.

Orthodox Conservatives director Joseph Robertson was supporting Ms Braverman but said he would now move to Ms Badenoch, and added that attempts to portray Ms Truss as the “sugar-coated Brexit darling” would not work because members would remember she was a Remainer and once a Lib Dem .

“I don’t think [the membership] are as stupid as some people like to think”, he said.

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