Jeremy Hunt hits out at ‘smears and attacks’ in Tory leadership contest as he is eliminated

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Jeremy Hunt  (AFP via Getty Images)
Jeremy Hunt (AFP via Getty Images)

Jeremy Hunt has lashed out at “smears and attacks” in the Tory leadership contest after claims that Rishi Sunak’s team lent him votes.

Mr Hunt, who was eliminated in the first ballot on of Tory MPs Wednesday with just 18 votes, hit out at what he called “smears and attacks” after the claim by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

“A gentle word of advice to the remaining candidates: smears & attacks may bring short term tactical gain but always backfire long term," he tweeted.

“The nation is watching & they've had enough of our drama; be the broad church & unbeatable, election winning machine that our country deserves.”

Ms Dorries, who is backing Liz Truss, had accused the Sunak campaign of lending Mr Hunt votes to get him onto the final ballot in what she called “dirty tricks,” “a stitch up,” or “dark arts”.

She made the claim in response to a tweet which alleged that former education secretary Gavin Williamson, who is supporting the former chancellor, had organised the syphoning off of some votes to let Mr Hunt pass the hurdle.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak’s campaigns denied the charge.

Also knocked out after failing to secure enough votes in the first round was Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, with 25 votes - less than the 30 required to advance to the next round.

Brandon Lewis, who was chairing Mr Zahawi's campaign said he hoped the rest of the contest was “carried out in a constructive spirit".

"I am incredibly proud to have chaired Nadhim's leadership campaign and I must pay tribute to him and the character and decency he has shown throughout," the former Northern Ireland secretary said in a statement.

"It is my hope that the remaining stages of the leadership contest are carried out in a constructive spirit, in the best interests of our party and the country.

“The British people deserve honourable and effective leadership.”

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