The pool of 6 — Mordaunt momentum — Can Liz unite the right? – POLITICO
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By ELENI COUREA
Good Thursday morning. This is Eleni Courea.
DRIVING THE DAY
THE POOL OF 6: Half a dozen candidates are preparing to battle it out on the second day of the Tory leadership knock-out rounds. Penny Mordaunt is in the spotlight after storming ahead with both Tory MPs and party members, and today is looking make-or-break for Liz Truss’ bid to unite the right behind her.
One thing is for certain: This summer’s Tory leadership contest is way more fast-moving and unpredictable than the ones in 2019 and in 2016 (clearly they are now a triennial thing). Team Rishi Sunak’s efforts to position their candidate as the undisputed frontrunner have been blown out of the water by Mordaunt’s surge. One Nation-favorite Tom Tugendhat and right-wingers Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman are all still in the running too and none are demonstrating any appetite to back down.
Happening today: There will be hustings before the One Nation caucus between 10 a.m. and noon. Voting to determine today’s weakest link will take place between 11.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m., with the results announced at 3 p.m. Anyone with fewer than 30 votes will be eliminated — and if all of them meet that threshold, then the last-placed candidate is out. Braverman — who scraped through yesterday — is the one to watch.
Competing for the spotlight: At 10 a.m. Truss officially launches her campaign and Tugendhat hosts a free-for-all question-and-answer session with lobby hacks — more on both in the campaign round-up section below.
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But first, what everyone is talking about: Mordaunt is now the bookies’ favorite to become prime minister after an explosive poll suggested she is by far and away the most popular candidate with Tory Party grassroots. A YouGov survey suggested 27 percent of party members back Mordaunt, putting her streets ahead of Kemi Badenoch with 15 percent and Truss and Sunak on 13. Mordaunt would easily defeat every other contender in a runoff, according to the survey — thrashing Sunak by a frankly embarrassing 67 percent to 28.
The emerging picture: The findings broadly tally with the ConHome members’ panel that put Mordaunt in the lead last week. For their part, Sunak’s supporters point to an Opinium poll for Channel 4 which put him ahead of Truss and Mordaunt among party members. But Opinium’s Chris Curtis said yesterday that those results were probably down to the time the fieldwork was done and suggested there had been a huge surge in support for Mordaunt in the past week.
Praying for Penny: The former senior Labour staffer who stuck £100 on Mordaunt to be the next PM two years ago, when the odds were a cool 100/1. Playbook will not be naming names, but if you see a very happy left-wing spinner in Strangers on September 5 buying rounds of drinks for the entire bar, you’ll know why.
Worth remembering: Boris Johnson topped Tory members’ poll after Tory members’ poll back in the summer of 2019, which gave an air of inevitability to his victory long before it happened. And in that case the polls matched the reality — Playbook remembers trekking to regional hustings and watching Johnson get mobbed by party members in Dorset and Exeter as his then-rival Jeremy Hunt looked on.
The question now: How will Mordaunt — who has spent the past few years in relative obscurity as a junior minister outside Cabinet, and who is almost totally unknown by the British public — fare in the spotlight? As we speak, political hacks and jealous rivals will be poring through her record and digging through her past. The Financial Times carries a piece on the attacks already being aimed at Mordaunt, including from allies of Sunak over her comments on monetary policy (never change, FT). The Mail’s Jason Groves has allies of Truss accusing Mordaunt of “telling lies” about her stance on trans rights. A Truss ally tells the Times that this is the wrong moment for a PM who needs “stabilizers,” while Camp Mordaunt hits back at Truss over her “dog-whistle, anti-woke Faragist campaign.”
It really would be a remarkable story … if Mordaunt were to make it from near-total obscurity to No. 10 within five weeks (and it is far too soon to tell whether that will happen). Just 11 percent of British voters could identify her when presented with her picture, according to a Savanta ComRes poll published yesterday, compared with 66 percent of people who could name Sunak and 33 percent who identified Truss. A separate Ipsos Mori survey found that 20 percent knew of Mordaunt — not far off the 12 percent who claimed they were aware of made-up candidate Stewart Lewis. Here’s the Evening Standard’s write-up of that one.
If you too know nothing about Penny Mordaunt: This Times profile by Oli Wright and Chris Smyth isn’t a bad place to start.
Time for some policy offers: In today’s Sun, Mordaunt vows to cut off fuel supplies and boats from people smugglers in France to tackle Channel crossings (Playbook would be surprised if no one has thought of that before) and pledges to stick with Priti Patel’s Rwanda deportation policy. On page 4 of the Mail, Mordaunt has an op-ed setting out her defense offering. Notably she is not matching the Tugendhat pledge to raise defense spending to 3 percent of the U.K.’s GDP and instead wants to stick to 2.5 percent.
Reality check: Mordaunt is far from being in as strong a position as Johnson was three long years ago, with dozens of MPs from all wings of the party piling in behind him as well as strong grassroots backing. Sunak is still the frontrunner with the parliamentary party, and he is well-placed to hoover up supporters from Nadhim Zahawi and Jeremy Hunt, who were both eliminated after getting fewer than 30 votes. If he secures the support of 120 MPs (and he is currently at 88), Sunak will automatically make it through to the final. The Times’ Henry Zeffman, George Grylls and Geri Scott take a proper look into whose supporters are likely to go where.
Staying ahead: An ally stressed to Playbook that Sunak secured the backing of a quarter of the parliamentary party at a point when there were eight candidates in the field. In his essential analysis, the Mail’s Jason Groves describes this as “putting on a brave face” and suggests Sunak might want to liven up his “safety-first campaign.”
Hunting for support: Shortly after he was knocked out, Hunt endorsed Sunak, telling the BBC’s Chris Mason in an interview: “Politics is really about character and Rishi is one of the most decent, straight people with the highest standards of integrity that I have ever met in British politics.” The move raised eyebrows given the strong expectation he’d row in behind Mordaunt, who was one of his biggest backers in 2019 — costing her a Cabinet job. The Times reports that Mordaunt’s team was given the impression they had his backing, and runs through the various tensions likely to emerge between Hunt and Sunak, including on NHS spending. Nevertheless, Sky’s Sam Coates summed it up in 20 seconds: “It’s not entirely clear how one of this contest’s biggest losers is going to end up helping Rishi Sunak — it’s not clear that he can bring many of the 24 other Conservative MPs along with him.” His entire analysis is well worth listening to.
The first problem for Rishi: As Coates points out, if he makes it to the final two, Sunak looks set to be thrashed by whomever he comes up against. The most under-appreciated aspect of yesterday’s YouGov poll is that the former chancellor appears to be hugely unpopular with the grassroots and would only defeat Hunt in a runoff (hence allegations earlier this week that his team was trying to engineer a Sunak vs. Hunt contest). Sunak has just over six weeks to turn things around by charming the party membership.
The second problem for Rishi: As one super-smart Lobby hack pointed out to Playbook yesterday, if he does make it to No. 10 Sunak will have to reckon with the Daily Mail’s wrath. The paper has used successive splashes to brand the former chancellor a duplicitous leftie traitor for bringing down Boris Johnson. The Guardian’s Jim Waterson has a great piece on the media politics of it all and says that Mail staff expect the paper to back Truss, having been told not to write stories that are “overly critical” of her. Today’s leader goes halfway there, saying Truss “has distinguished herself in Cabinet and on the international stage” and that while Badenoch and Braverman are “excellent prospects … they are almost entirely untested.”
Right on brand: Today the Mail splashes on Truss’ call for the Tory right to unite behind her, with a front page that looks quite a lot like the one from two days ago. Guess the message didn’t get through the first time. The front-page copy brands Sunak the “establishment favorite.”
Inside brand Rishi: The Mail carries a spread mocked up like a crime investigation, with Andrew Pierce speculating that shadowy Tory fixer Dougie Smith and notorious former No. 10 adviser Dominic Cummings are pulling the strings in Sunak’s leadership bid. Intriguingly, Pierce reports that Smith phoned Johnson and told him to quit back in February during the exodus of his senior staff, including Smith’s wife Munira Mirza. Meanwhile the Tel’s Ben Riley-Smith takes a look inside the professionalized operation that could give Sunak the edge and says the campaign has been working round the clock between 5.45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Not even Playbook can match those hours (though we’re pretty close).
LIZ FOR LEADER: Truss will become the last remaining candidate to hold her formal campaign launch today. She is due to speak at 10 a.m. in Westminster and is likely to announce more backers to try and give her campaign new impetus after she secured an underwhelming 50 votes from MPs yesterday. The Telegraph’s Chris Hope reports Truss was holding one-to-one meetings with potential backers on Wednesday night, while BRS says she will attack Mordaunt over her “lack of economic experience.”
Now read this: In a timely must-read interview with the Spectator’s Katy Balls, Truss reveals she would borrow to cut taxes and thinks the COVID debt should be treated like a “war-time debt” (a longstanding demand of the Tory right). “I opposed these tax rises from the start and I spoke out against the tax rises at the time. So I’m not a Johnny-come-lately to this agenda,” she said, while attacking the “Treasury orthodoxy” on driving down debt.
Media round-up: The Guardian goes for Truss over her planned comments that pupils at her high-performing comprehensive school, Roundhay, were let down by “low expectations.” Meanwhile, IDS has a piece in today’s Telegraph arguing that Truss’ “unshakeable resolve” and tough stance on China makes her the best candidate for PM. The Times’ Henry Zeffman has a punchy analysis on how “savvy” Truss achieved her Brexiteer transformation, while Steve Swinford reveals she will pledge to create “low-tax zones” to encourage investment in northern England and trails the rest of her speech.
Staying positive: A source close to Truss was upbeat about her chances last night, telling Playbook: “Things can change quickly. Our numbers are heading in the right direction and Liz has a great base of support. Liz is the rival candidate to Rishi who has most credibility on the economy and a plan to deliver on it, which is ultimately going to be the biggest issue at the next election.”
TIME FOR TUGENDHAT: Having watched successive candidates being dragged over the coals for dodging public scrutiny, fifth-placed Tom Tugendhat now figures he has nothing to lose and is ready to steal the limelight — by holding an open Q&A session with Lobby reporters at 10 a.m. in Westminster today. He will vow not to make any “dirty backroom deals” and reveal that he has rebuffed calls from three leading rivals who have asked him to fall in behind them, a source in his camp told Playbook.
Love, DC: Team Tugendhat’s strategy is to get him through today to this weekend’s TV debates so he can “do a David Cameron” by showing how he can connect with the public, one supporter told reporters including Playbook in the corridor outside Committee Room 16 where the ballots were cast yesterday. Tugendhat writes in the Economist today on his 10-year plan for the British economy.
PLAYING DIRTY: After Hunt left the race warning the remaining candidates their “smears and attacks … always backfire,” POLITICO’s Annabelle Dickson asks whether this is the dirtiest leadership race in history. One campaign adviser tells her: “Things are getting really nasty … You’ve got MPs who are terrible people, they are so vain and venal. The only thing they care about more than ambition for themselves is destroying the people they dislike.”
And so it goes on: Rival camps claim that Sunak-supporter Gavin Williamson is aggressively calling MPs to solicit their backing, warning them directly: “There’s nobody better than I am at this.” Team Sunak deny the accusation. The i’s Lobby team has more on the briefing and counter-briefing about Williamson.
Vote-lending latest: The fact Hunt got just 18 votes yesterday — fewer than the number of nominations he received on Tuesday — was seen by some as evidence that Williamson lent him support to get him over the line. The simpler explanation is that a handful of MPs decided they had backed the wrong horse and switched. What’s now certainly true is that Sunak doesn’t appear to have enough parliamentary support to start doling it out to rivals, which to be fair is something his team was pointing out on Tuesday night.
Kingmaker Wallace: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has yet to endorse anyone and could become a “kingmaker” in the contest, allies of his tell the Times’ Larisa Brown and George Grylls, insisting he could back any of the six candidates including Sunak. Truss and Mordaunt are seen as the likeliest to win his support, however.
KEMI FOR PM: Another interesting dynamic in all this is that Badenoch appears to be more popular with the Tory grassroots than Cabinet stalwarts Truss and Sunak, according to both this week’s YouGov poll and last week’s ConHome one. She won 40 MPs over yesterday, just 10 fewer than Truss, and has been hoovering up support from right-wing commentators including the Telegraph’s Juliet Samuels and GB News’ Darren Grimes. The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson notes how many writers for the magazine (which has yet to endorse anyone) are rolling in behind her. This may all be a bit of a problem for Truss’ efforts to present herself as the woman to unite the right — and puts Badenoch in pole position for a Cabinet job in the near future. The Guardian’s Peter Walker and Haroon Siddique have a succinct, fair-minded profile of her.
MG for KB: The Times’ Oli Wright and Steve Swinford have speedily turned around an interview with Badenoch where they unpick the whirlwind success of her campaign. Badenoch tells them that when she approached Michael Gove to tell him she was thinking of running last week, he said: “Really? If you show me you are serious I will publicly back you. Show me you are serious.”
On that note: Camilla Tominey has an in-depth piece in today’s Telegraph about the fragmentation of the right-wing Tory vote and the dilemma for that side of the party. “The truth is none of these candidates ticks all of the boxes,” a Tory source tells her. “If you’re left with nothing, what the hell are you supposed to do?” Danny Finkelstein had a great polemic in yesterday’s Times warning that “the [Tory] right will go on electing leaders and feeling betrayed by them for as long as there is a gap between what they expect to happen and what is remotely likely to happen.”
Sum (net) zero game: Former Science Minister Chris Skidmore asked all six remaining candidates whether they would keep the U.K.’s net zero target at last night’s hustings of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs. Sunak, Truss and Mordaunt all said yes, he reports back, while Braverman and Tugendhat said they would delay it past 2050 and Badenoch would tweak the concept to make it more “accountable” and delivery-focused. There is more nuance on Badenoch’s position in her Times interview, while a source close to Tugendhat says he wants “to keep some flexibility on timescales to take into account geopolitical shocks that might impact British households.”
The voters to win: More in Common’s Luke Tryl has an interesting breakdown of the four distinct voting groups who put Johnson in No. 10, and whom the next Tory leader will have to win over to keep the same electoral coalition.
Over in No. 10: Everyone was a bit baffled by Johnson hinting that yesterday’s PMQs could be his last because the new Tory leader could be “elected by acclamation.” Barring an extraordinary development, Johnson is still supposed to be PM next Wednesday. But the Guardian reports that he could miss next week’s PMQs because No. 10 has been making tentative enquiries about organizing an international trip which is now unlikely to go ahead; the Times says said trip may be to Japan where Johnson would pay his respects following the assassination of former PM Shinzo Abe, or another visit to Ukraine.
Don’t forget to visit … POLITICO’s dedicated hub for essential coverage and analysis of the Tory leadership contest.
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
ONLINE SAFETY DELAY: A new type of Twitter war broke out last night after reports emerged that progress on the U.K.’s proposed online safety regulations is being delayed until the autumn — by which point Johnson will be gone and there is no guarantee the new PM will support the move. Johnson-loyalist Nadine Dorries has been a particularly strong advocate for the Online Safety Bill since she became culture secretary, as POLITICO’s Annabelle Dickson wrote in this profile of her earlier this year.
Unintended consequences? The government’s decision to table a no-confidence motion in itself on Monday has squeezed the parliamentary timetable, and the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill won out, officials tell Annabelle. There is more here.
Enemies: Johnson’s departure has cast doubt on the future of the so-called online harms legislation with former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch openly criticizing it at the weekend. Responding to reports the legislation could be delayed, Badenoch tweeted: “This would be the right move. The bill is in no fit state to become law. If I’m elected prime minister I will ensure the bill doesn’t overreach.” Dorries is not impressed and Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell also had some extremely punchy comments in response.
ZOMBIE GOVERNMENT ROUND-UP: Priti Patel withdrew from a planned appearance before the home affairs committee yesterday with no explanation (the Times’ Matt Dathan has the low-down on her aborted leadership campaign) … and the PM’s official spokesman said Johnson would be formally resigning on September 6.
COVID inquiry latest: The government is trying to block disclosures to the COVID inquiry, Bloomberg’s Alex Wickham (formerly of this parish) reports. He reveals that top government lawyer James Eadie has advised the Cabinet to limit the scope of information provided, warning that they are likely to face huge claims from families who lost loved ones.
Summer of discontent: Thousands of train operator and Network Rail workers will go strike on Wednesday July 27 over the “paltry” pay offer they’ve been given, the RMT union announced yesterday.
Winter beckons: Against the backdrop of strikes, soaring inflation and the cost of living crunch, a Cabinet minister pondering the Tory leadership contest sums up the next few months to the FT like this: “We’re heading for a shit storm — we’d better choose someone who knows what they are doing.”
DEAD CAT LATEST: Here’s the part of the email you’ve been waiting for. The Sun’s James Somper and Harry Cole have a Day 2 on the gripping tale of the Bengal cat killed in an alleged hit-and-run by Tory MP Tobias Ellwood. A friend of Atticus the cat’s family claims Ellwood “hasn’t apologized at all,” though this is disputed by a source close to the MP. The paper also carries quotes from Julie Holland, a neighbor who says Atticus used to play with her dog Boris, named after the prime minister, and her Boxer dog Stanley, who is named after his father. “Everyone in the village is talking about it. It’s a disgrace,” Holland said. “If he had done that to my cat I would have done something about it.” A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “The parties have been identified and spoken to. The matter was dealt with by a community resolution.”
Ellwood speaks: Last night the Bournemouth East MP told the Sun: “When I learnt about the cat I was horrified. It’s in my nature to step forward not back. I immediately made efforts to reach out and apologize. I initially called the wrong neighbor but he was kind enough to pass on my apology and offer to replace the cat. Before I could pursue the matter further we were distracted by a serious attack on our house, unbeknownst at the time that it was that related.”
OVER IN LABOUR LAND: Keir Starmer will be on LBC’s Andrew Marr show this evening.
HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with Cabinet Office questions, followed by any UQs … Commons leader Mark Spencer has the weekly business statement next, followed by any other statements … The main business will see Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi and Tory MP Alicia Kearns lead a backbench debate on the genocide at Srebrenica, and Green MP Caroline Lucas lead one on COP15 … Labour’s Conor McGinn has an adjournment debate on the British glass industry.
HOUSE OF LORDS: Sits from 11 a.m. with questions on FPNs during lockdown which weren’t paid, paramilitary criminal offences in Northern Ireland and rising energy prices … The main business will see debates on the changing status of women and girls in the U.K. since 2010, security challenges posed by China and the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998.
WONK WATCH: Conservative think tank Bright Blue has a talk on education — one of the lesser-featured issues of the leadership contest — from Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza this morning. You can watch the stream online here from 10.30 a.m.
ALOK TO TALK ABOUT: The Aspen Institute and Edelman host COP President Alok Sharma this morning for chats on net zero, climate change and the crazy weather we’re having. Watch from 9 a.m. here.
TURN UP FOR TESSA: Former PM Tony Blair and future PM David Beckham have joined forces to back a fundraising effort for NHS brain cancer care in memory of late MP Tessa Jowell, and to mark the 10th anniversary of London 2012. A newly cut version of the Olympics opening ceremony will be shown in cinemas on July 27 as part of the effort.
CITY LIFE: POLITICO’s Living Cities project kicks off Chapter 2 today on urban mobility. For the next three months, author Aitor Hernández-Morales and the team will delve into how European cities tackle the challenge of moving people and goods in the 21st century. You can sign up to receive the free weekly newsletter here.
TODAY IN SCOTLAND: Nicola Sturgeon will publish the second paper in the SNP’s new series that makes the case for independence. This one is on “renewing democracy through independence” — which provides the perfect foil for comments released overnight from the first minister which accuse both Tories and Labour of “democracy denial” in their approach to IndyRef2. Read Sturgeon’s full comments here via ITV.
UKRAINE UPDATE: Moscow and Kyiv have reached a “basic, technical” agreement to move grain exports out of blockaded Black Sea ports, the Turkish government claimed last night after working to help broker a deal. The different parties held talks in Istanbul last night following months of famine-inducing deadlock. More from POLITICO’s Emma Anderson here. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s top war crimes prosecutor and European judicial authorities gather at The Hague today to work out a strategy to prosecute alleged Russian war crimes. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the Ukrainian presidency, argues in an op-ed for POLITICO that Russia should be labeled a “terrorist state.”
**How do we design London’s transport infrastructure to make it green and people-friendly, while also being affordable and efficient? Learn more on the mobility issues of today and tomorrow in “Mobile Cities” a weekly newsletter from POLITICO. Subscribe now.**
VIEW FROM INSIDE THE ROOM
WE’RE STANDING: Playbook is launching an official campaign to stop leadership hopefuls holding events in the side room of the Cinnamon Club. We love the restaurant but for media scrum events it’s just too small. The Mordaunt launch yesterday was packed to the rafters with journos, photographers, MPs, activists and campaign staff — with the entire scene melting like a tub of ice cream in a sauna, POLITICO’s Emilio Casalicchio writes.
Parting the Red Sea: Hacks were griping about the lack of space and seats (around 40) in a sweatbox containing what felt like hundreds, when campaign aides demanded a path be cut through the middle of the crowd to allow Mordaunt to enter from the back. Cue lots of uncomfortable pushing and crushed toes as people tried to meld together to create a single human form.
To be fair: Kudos to Mordaunt for taking a few more questions from journos than the other candidates have at their launch events — including some that weren’t on the pre-agreed list. But it still wasn’t enough. Those who want to be PM should be leaving at least 30 minutes for questions and giving all the hacks in the room who want to ask one a chance. It will be good practice for their time in Downing Street.
And please … Enough with the planted activist questions.
Forgive us for banging on, but … around 200,000 people (who — by virtue of having joined a political party — are some of the most crackers in the land) are getting to choose the next prime minister of the U.K. It’s a process lasting just a few weeks, with not enough checks and balances as candidates trade off support from colleagues, make behind-the-scenes deals and detail too little of their hoped-for policies. The general leadership news frenzy means those policies are getting far less scrutiny than they normally would.
So … The least PM hopefuls can do, Emilio writes, is open themselves up to as much examination from the press — including from outlets that are not aligned to their politics — as possible. If candidates are sincere in their promises to put the era of sleaze, untruths and low public standards behind them, being open to press interrogation is the best route to doing so. Claiming to be passionate about a free press and open democracy is not enough. Candidates must show they mean it.
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Work and Pensions Secretary — and LizforLeader ambassador — Thérèse Coffey broadcast round: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) …
Health Minister — and Ready4Rishi believer — Gillian Keegan: talkRADIO (7.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.20 a.m.) … Sky News (7.30 a.m.) … GB News (9.05 a.m.).
Today program: Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak (8.10 a.m.).
Also on Kay Burley (Sky News): Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire (8.05 a.m.) … Women and equalities committee Chairwoman Caroline Nokes (8.20 a.m.) … Tory MP Roger Gale (8.30 a.m.).
Also on Nick Ferrari at breakfast (LBC): RMT boss Mick Lynch (8.05 a.m.) … ASDA Chairman Stuart Rose (8.20 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio: RMT Assistant General Secretary Eddie Dempsey (7.10 a.m.) … Former Tory leader and Truss supporter Iain Duncan Smith (8.05 a.m.) … President Royal College Emergency Medicine Katherine Henderson (8.15 a.m.) … Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire (8.35 a.m.) … Northern Powerhouse Partnership Vice Chair Jim O’Neill (8.45 a.m.) … Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko (9.45 a.m.).
Also on talkTV breakfast: Former Brexit Minister David Frost (7.45 a.m.) … Tory MP and Braverman supporter Miriam Cates (8.05 a.m.) … Tory MP and Badenoch supporter Tom Hunt (8.45 a.m.) … Former Tory leader and Truss supporter Iain Duncan Smith (9.05 a.m.) … Tory MP and Mordaunt supporter James Sunderland (9.21 a.m.).
Also on GB News: Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire (7.30 a.m.).
Politics Live (BBC Two 12.15 p.m.): Tory MP Jake Berry … Labour peer Helena Kennedy … GB News presenter Inaya Folarin Iman … Journalist Paris Lees.
The Briefing with Gloria De Piero (GB News 12 p.m.): Former Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage … Crossbench peer Molly Meacher … Labour MP John Cryer.
Tonight with Andrew Marr (LBC 6 p.m.): Labour leader Keir Starmer.
Question Time (From Torquay, BBC One 10.35 p.m.): Tory MP Bim Afolami … Labour MP Chris Bryant … NFU President Minette Batters … NEU General Secretary Mary Bousted … The Telegraph’s Olivia Utley.
Reviewing the paper’s tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): Broadcaster Steve Richards and the Telegraph’s Olivia Utley.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
Bloomberg: UK Tories to vote again in leader race as Sunak, Mordaunt ahead.
Daily Express: It’s hotting up! Mordaunt surges in race for No 10.
Daily Mail: Unite now or we lose, Truss tells Tory right.
Daily Mirror: Cost of living crisis … What cost of living crisis?
Daily Star: Two pints of lager and a golden retriever please, landlord.
Financial Times: U.S. inflation piles pressure on Fed for big rate increase.
HuffPost UK: Sunak on top, Mordaunt has the mo.
i: Mordaunt surge rattles rivals in race for No 10.
Metro: PM for PM?
POLITICO UK: The nasty party’s dirtiest race.
PoliticsHome: Government’s flagship Online Safety Bill set to be dropped from Commons business.
The Daily Telegraph: Mordaunt seizes the momentum after first Tory ballot.
The Guardian: Pressure on Truss as Tory rivals steal march in leadership battle.
The Independent: Mordaunt surges into top two in leadership race.
The Sun: The six factor — Rishi wins … but Penny new fave.
The Times: Surge for Mordaunt in race to be Tory leader.
**Who will succeed Boris Johnson in the 2022 Conservative Party leadership race? Catch up on all the news around the race thanks to our dedicated news hub.**
TODAY’S NEWS MAGS
POLITICO Europe: Europe’s last summer before the Russian winter.
The New Statesman: The selfish giant — A special issue on the fall of Boris Johnson and what comes next.
The Spectator: Blue murder.
WESTMINSTER WEATHER: ⛅️⛅️⛅️ Relatively cooler but still scorching. Highs of 27C.
NEW LOBBY GIGS: Jonathan Reilly has been promoted to Westminster editor at the Sun and will deputize for Kate Ferguson when she takes over as political editor on Sunday. Natasha Clark has been promoted to chief political correspondent in the Sun’s new-look Lobby team and will be keeping the environment beat, while Jack Elsom has been promoted to political correspondent. Congrats to all.
PUPPY PARADE: Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club have written to MPs and peers to formally open nominations for the Westminster Dog of the Year Award — check your inboxes.
Also open for nominations: MHP, which runs popular annual 30 to Watch awards for young journalists, has launched a new set of 30 to Watch in politics awards and are seeking nominations and entries for political thinkers, communicators, campaigners and policy-makers aged 30 or younger. More detail here.
SPOTTED: At Penny Mordaunt’s long-planned summer party in the Westminster Abbey College Garden, co-hosted with the Team LEWIS Foundation: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace … Veterans’ Affairs Minister Johnny Mercer … Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns and staffer Ryan Loveridge … Conservative grandees David Davis, Charles Walker, Andrea Leadsom and Greg Knight … former Ministers Jo Churchill and Rebecca Pow … Tory 2019ers Nickie Aitken, Kieran Mullan, James Sunderland and Jacob Young … ITV’s Anushka Asthana … and Channel 4’s Cathy Newman.
Also spotted … at the U.K. Music summer party inside the Royal Festival Hall: DCMS Ministers Matt Warman and Stephen Parkinson … special advisers Allan Nixon, Rhiannon Padley, Emma Dean, James Price, Emma Pryor, Beatrice Timpson, Ed Winfield and Amy Milner … former SpAd Ellie Lyons … CCHQ’s Alex Wild … Labour advisers Luke Sullivan, Emma Barnes and Chris McQuiggin … Hacks David Wooding, Sam Coates, Harry Cole, George Parker, Hugo Gye, Seb Payne, Glen Owen, Henry Zeffman, Matt Chorley, Rob Merrick, Katy Balls, Natasha Clark, Liam Kelly, Luke McGee, Grant Tucker, Cindy Yu, Latika Bourke and Marie Le Conte … Hanbury’s Niamh Fogarty … Labour MPs Lucy Powell, Julie Elliott, Conor McGinn, Kevin Brennan, Toby Perkins, Jeff Smith, Ellie Reeves, Vicky Foxcroft, Alex Davies Jones, Rosie Winterton, Stephen Morgan, Christian Wakeford and Ruth Jones … independent MP Neil Coyle … the SNP’s Pete Wishart … the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood … peers Clement Jones, Dave Watts, Paul Strasburger and Stephen Gilbert … Labour staffer Andrew Mitchell … and U.K. Music’s Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.
Also spotted … At PinkNews’ Westminster summer reception: Former PM Theresa May (who warned that the U.K. was at risk of “sliding back” on LGBTQ+ rights if the government does not legislate to ban conversion therapy) … Former Equalities Minister Mike Freer … Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle … Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper … Equalities Minister Amanda Solloway … Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds … Lib Dem MP Layla Moran … SNP MP John Nicolson … Women and equalities committee Chair Caroline Nokes … Labour MPs Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Ben Bradshaw and Kate Osborne … PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen … Human rights activist Peter Tatchell … Tory peer Ian Duncan … Stonewall CEO Nancy Kelley … Ozanne Foundation founder Jayne Ozanne … Terence Higgins Trust CEO Ian Green.
Also spotted … at Europe House’s summer drinks: EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida … EU spokesperson Federico Bianchi … The FT’s George Parker … The Guardian’s Katherine Butler … The Telegraph’s Nick Gutteridge and James Crisp … The Economist’s John Peet … GB News’ Darren McCaffrey … The Indy’s Kim Sengupta … The National’s Thomas Harding … Repubblica’s Antonello Guerrera … TF1’s Bénédicte Paviot … Cabinet Office head of strategic comms Camilla Monckton … Former Philip Hammond SpAd Giles Wynn.
Also spotted: London Mayor Sadiq Khan at the CBI summer reception, challenging Tory leadership candidates on how they will support the capital. He decried a “damaging anti-London agenda at the very top of government.”
Also spotted: Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg at the Hill House School’s field day in Chelsea yesterday afternoon, watching his six children perform at the traditional end-of-year event.
BIRTHDAYS: Tory peer Arthur Gore, known as the 9th earl of Arran … Crossbench peer and former Treasury mandarin Nick Macpherson … Crossbench peer and former MI5 boss Eliza Manningham-Buller … Times Radio’s Cathy Newman … McKinsey deputy head of media relations Graham Ackerman.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Fiona Lally.
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