OPINION - Braverman out, Sunak leads, Mordaunt gains, Truss licks her lips

 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

Today’s vote:

Rishi Sunak - 101 votes

Penny Mordaunt - 83 votes

Liz Truss - 64 votes

Kemi Badenoch - 49 votes

Tom Tugendhat - 32 votes

Suella Braverman - 27 votes (eliminated)

And then there were five. Suella Braverman, the Attorney-General and preferred candidate of the right-wing European Research Group, has been knocked out of the Conservative leadership race, having finished bottom of today’s vote. The question is, where will her votes go? Liz Truss has some ideas.

It’s easy to make fun of Truss. Fun too. The Foreign Secretary has been on a journey over her political life. From young Liberal Democrat and one-time fervent republican (you won’t regret clicking) to Cameroonian cabinet minister, unashamed Remain supporter and now the likely candidate of the Tory right.

Is it flexibility, expedience or something else entirely? Either way, she’s a true survivor in the Jack Strawian mold. In government since 2012 and the cabinet (bar two years ‘attending cabinet’ as Chief Secretary to the Treasury) since 2014. No mean feat, given that her time has spanned three prime ministers, coalition/majority/minority administrations and a referendum in which she was on the losing side. Also, and let’s be honest, a lot of people don’t take her seriously.

That ideological flexibility and Thatcher cosplaying may be part of it, though this hardly makes Truss unusual. Her pronouncements about the benefits of Brexit may stretch credulity, but again, little that wouldn’t come out of the mouths of Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.

I was struck yesterday that her energy policy is perhaps the most sensible of the three. She, like Sunak and Mordaunt, is committed to net-zero. But Truss has also suggested removing green levies from energy bills and placing them onto general taxation. This is widely supported by green groups, as it would continue to fund the energy transition while simultaneously easing the burden on poorer households. Credit where credit is due.

All three main contenders will now be closely studying at the Parliamentary arithmetic. Truss will hope to secure much of Braverman and eventually, Kemi Badenoch’s vote. Sunak and Mordaunt will be fighting over Tugendhat’s.

And they all know, if the polling is anything to go by, that if Mordaunt makes the final two, she’ll likely win. Can Sunak and Truss lock her out of the membership vote? With a big weekend of television debates to come, it is all to play for.

Elsewhere in the paper, it’s not every day that the Environment Agency calls for bosses to be jailed, but that’s the message for those who lead water companies responsible for serious pollution incidents. Read the forward to the report here for the full force.

In the comment pages, Emma Loffhagen says: rent a flat in London the size of a parking space? I should be so lucky... the horrors of finding a half-decent flat share in the capital.

As a recent report shows that half of Londoners are cutting spending on sport and exercise, former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has some unwelcome news: having used to weigh 22 stone, trust me, exercise matters.

While Cricket Correspondent Will Macpherson warns that, though English cricket is flying high now, not everything is rosy, and Stokes’ men cannot solve all the problems.

And finally, the out of offices are bouncing back which it can only mean one thing: it is officially pool loungers and rosé-at-10am-cos-why-not season. So we bring you your alternative summer reading list – including at least one you might actually finish.

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