Tory leadership race heats up as Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt close gap on Rishi Sunak

·2-min read
 (ITV via Getty Images)
(ITV via Getty Images)

The race to become the next Prime Minister heated up on Tuesday as Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt both gained on front runner Rishi Sunak.

Outsider Kemi Badenoch’s surprise bid to lead the Tory party ended as she received the lowest number of endorsements from Tory MPs, with 59 backing her to be the next PM.

Mr Sunak was out in front with 118 votes from his Conservative colleagues, just three away from the number needed to guarantee a place in the final two.

The former Chancellor had 115 backers on Monday.

Ms Mordaunt came second with 92 votes in the third ballot of Tory MPs - ten more than she received on Monday.

The former Defence Secretary said: “This afternoon colleagues once again put their trust in me and I cannot thank them enough.

“We are so nearly across the finish line. I am raring to go and excited to put my case to members across the country and win.”

Ms Truss won the support of 86 colleagues, up from 71.

She gained the endorsement of fellow cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan. The International Trade minister had previously supported Tom Tugendhat’s leadership bid before he was knocked out yesterday.

The Foreign Secretary now faces a fight with Ms Mordaunt to woo the MPs who had supported Ms Badenoch and convince them to switch to her campaign.

The three contenders will be whittled down to two on Wednesday, whose names will then be put to the 200,000-strong Tory membership to vote on. The winner will be declared as the new Prime Minister on September 5.

It comes as polling by YouGov suggested Mr Sunak would lose in a head to head race to every candidate.

Ms Badencoch was favourite among Conservative party members in a final two fight with Rishi, followed by Ms Truss and then Ms Mordaunt, according to the  survey.