I’ll run the economy like Thatcher if I win Tory leadership

There were allegations of “dirty tricks” on Tuesday as Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary – a loyal supporter of Boris Johnson – pointed the finger at the campaign team of Mr Sunak, whose resignation last week helped bring Mr Johnson down.

Ms Dorries shared claims online that the Sunak camp had lent votes to Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary who is seeking the leadership, saying it amounted to a “stitch-up” and “dark arts”. 

“Team Rishi want the candidate they know they can definitely beat in the final two and that is Jeremy Hunt,” she wrote on Twitter.

Both Mr Sunak’s team and Mr Hunt denied the claim. Mr Hunt said: “We are running completely independent campaigns.”

The public trading of allegations reflected a rancorous mood on the Tory benches as the battle to pick a successor to Mr Johnson intensifies.

Mr Sunak, who has the backing of more declared MPs than any rival, picked up the endorsements of Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Mr Shapps, with both attending his official campaign launch on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss, whose team is attempting to portray her as the most viable “stop Rishi” candidate, secured the support of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit minister, and Ms Dorries, both of whom announced their backing on Downing Street.

Ms Patel, who did not launch a leadership bid after wavering, and Mr Javid, who held a formal launch event on Monday, are yet to declare who they will now back. Their support is sure to be keenly sought by the remaining candidates.

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