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Lord Frost calls on Kemi Badenoch to withdraw from Tory leadership race and back Liz Truss

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Lord David Frost has urged Tory leadership contender Kemi Badenoch to pull out of the race to succeed Boris Johnson in No 10 and support the foreign secretary Liz Truss’s bid.

Calling for “unity among free marketeers”, the former Brexit minister heaped praised on Ms Badenoch but said she should withdraw “in return for a serious job in a Truss administration”.

His remarks come after the attorney general Suella Braverman was eliminated from the contest at the second ballot of Tory MPs on Thursday, and later threw her support behind the foreign secretary.

Ms Truss is currently fighting to reach the final two, but Penny Mordaunt, a former defence secretary, and former chancellor Rishi Sunak, are leading among nominations from colleagues in the Tory party.

“Kemi and Suella Braverman set out convincing programmes, with differing emphases, for change,” Lord Frost wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

“But Liz’s depth of experience, her energy and ideas – as well as the simple fact she has the most votes of the three – put her in the lead.

“It is now time for pragmatism. I urge Kemi to stand down in return for a serious job in a Truss administration.”

Ms Badenoch’s campaign, however, said she is “in it to win”. Her spokesman said: “Kemi has brought interesting ideas and a new approach to this leadership contest. She is looking forward to the debates this weekend.

“She has no intention of stepping down and is in it to win.”

Lord Frost launched attack on Penny Mordaunt’s record in government (PA Wire)
Lord Frost launched attack on Penny Mordaunt’s record in government (PA Wire)

Lord Frost’s comments came just hours after he launched a stinging attack on Penny Mordaunt, a former defence secretary who has rapidly emerged as a frontrunner in the contest. He suggested Ms Mordaunt was “absent on parade” when he worked with her on Brexit negotiations.

He added in his article: “She did not master the detail in the negotiations, she shied away from delivering tough messages to the EU, and she wasn’t fully accountable for decisions or even always visible.

“After six months of this, I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on and find someone else to support me – which he duly did in the person of the admirable Michael Ellis.”

Dame Maria Miller – a backer of Ms Mordaunt – rejected the criticism from Lord Frost, telling Sky News on Friday his assessment was wrong.

“I have seen her to be a very effective campaigner. She really is one of the leading proponents of Brexit and was throughout the campaign.”

A source from her campaign added: “Penny has nothing but respect for Lord Frost. He did a huge amount to assist our negotiations until he resigned from government. Penny will always fight for Brexit and always has“

Additional reporting by PA.

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