Tom Tugendhat Is The Latest Candidate To Be Kicked Out Of The Tory Leadership Race

Tom Tugendhat looks on as Rishi Sunak makes a point during last night's ITV debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)
Tom Tugendhat looks on as Rishi Sunak makes a point during last night's ITV debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)

Tom Tugendhat looks on as Rishi Sunak makes a point during last night's ITV debate. (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/ITV via PA Media)

Tom Tugendhat has become the latest candidate to drop out of the Tory leadership contest.

The foreign affairs committee chairman came last with 31 votes in the third ballot of Conservative MPs.

Rishi Sunak solidified his position as the frontrunner with 115 votes, 14 more than the last round, while Penny Mordaunt stayed in second place with 82 votes, one less than she managed in the previous ballot.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss came third once again on 71, up seven on the second ballot, with Kemi Badenoch fourth on 58 votes, nine more than last time round.

A spokesperson for Sunak’s campaign said: “Rishi has done well today because he is the candidate with the clearest plan to restore trust, rebuild the economy, reunite the country and because he is best placed to beat Labour at the next election.

“Every poll shows only Rishi can beat Starmer, and is the candidate the public think would make the best PM.

“MPs are also recognising that Rishi has the best experience and plans to deal with the current economic situation. Rishi will rebuild our economy by gripping inflation and getting our economy growing quickly again.”

Despite coming second, Mordaunt will be disappointed that her support has fallen since the last round, while Truss would also have hoped to have made more progress after receiving the endorsement of Suella Braverman, who was ejected in the second round.

Badenoch, however, will be pleased that she continues to pick up support and is now well-placed to challenge both Mordaunt and Truss for second place.

After his elimination, Tugendhat said he will listen to what other candidates have to say before deciding who to support.

A Badenoch campaign source said: “Kemi is pleased to have taken it to the next vote. She has momentum over both Mordaunt and Truss. It’s all to play for and Kemi is in it to win.

“She wants to deliver change and is the only candidate in the race capable of delivering it.”

Another ballot will be held tomorrow, with the final two candidates being confirmed following a fifth round of voting on Wednesday.

That pair will then spend the next six weeks campaigning around the country, with 200,000 Tory members voting on who should succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and prime minister.

In a pitch to Tugendhat’s supporters, Mordaunt said: “My vote is steady and I’m grateful to my colleagues for all their support and thrilled to be in second place once more. MPs know that I’m a strong candidate, running a truly clean campaign and putting forward a positive vision for the party and our country.

“Tom Tugendhat MP is a friend and colleague who I’ve admired for years, I know that we are both committed to a clean start for our party and I believe he is one of the strongest assets the Conservative green benches. It was an honour to stand alongside him in this contest.”

A spokesperson for Truss said: “Liz is the candidate to lead a bold new economic approach, cut taxes, deliver on the benefits of Brexit, unite the party and win a general election.

“Tom Tugendhat ran a campaign that he can be very proud of and he has shown the depth of quality in the Conservative Party.

“Now is the time to get behind the best candidate to deliver the economic change we need.”

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