Tory leadership race latest news: Penny Mordaunt gains ground on Rishi Sunak as Braverman ousted in second round

Conservative leadership race: Who is Penny Mordaunt?

Penny Mordaunt has narrowed the gap with Rishi Sunak and increased her lead over Liz Truss in the second round of voting by Tory MPs in the contest to be party leader and prime minister.

The former defence secretary won 83 votes, while the frontrunner, the former chancellor, won 101 – a gap of 18, three lower than the gap yesterday after the first round.

But Suella Braverman, who was knocked out of the contest, announced she would now back Ms Truss, and if her supporters did the same, the foreign secretary would rival Ms Mordaunt for support.

Ms Braverman, who said she made the decision after holding talks with Ms Truss, earlier singled out Ms Mordaunt for criticism, accusing her of failing to stand up for women in her apparent support of trans rights issues and of not being an “authentic Brexiteer”.

Tom Tugendhat vowed to fight on, despite receiving the backing of just 32 Conservative MPs, as the remaining candidates prepare for two televised debates.


Liz Truss accused of ‘black-ops’ as desperate fight to stay in Tory leadership race begins

Liz Truss has been accused of “black-ops” in her desperate fight to stay in the Tory leadership race, as the party’s right-wing boosted her chances of being the next prime minister.

Two leading supporters of the foreign secretary branded key rival Penny Mordaunt unfit to be prime minister as the contest turned nasty and undermined her claim to be fighting a clean campaign.

The Tory infighting comes as one senior Truss supporter revealed frustration with MPs who have failed to vote for her as promised, telling The Independent: “This is the most duplicitous lying electorate you have ever come across.”

Read more from Kate Devlin, Rob Merrick and Ashley Cowburn:


Who are Rishi Sunak’s super rich in-laws?

The prospect of Rishi Sunak winning the leadership election is stirring a wave of excitement in India as well, both because of his own Indian heritage and because he is married to Akshata Murthy and therefore the son-in-law of one of India’s richest businessmen, Narayan Murthy, often hailed as the father of India’s IT boom.

Mr Murthy’s personal story tracks closely with India’s own path to becoming a successful global IT hub.

Here’s all you need to know about the former chancellor’s super wealthy in-laws:


Downing Street admits to ‘nasty, misogynist culture’ while Boris Johnson PM

Downing Street has admitted that Boris Johnson presided over a “nasty, misogynist culture” in No 10 but denied the prime minister himself was to blame.

An ITV documentary aired on Thursday, Tonight: Boris Johnson: The Rise and Fall, included allegations that Mr Johnson brought with him to Downing Street “a very masculine culture … you know, lads down the pub.”

The anonymous source, said to have worked in Downing Street, added, “If you were a female in that sort of zone, it’s actually quite uncomfortable to work in.”


Who should Labour fear most at the ballot box?

Who should Labour most fear: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt or Liz Truss?

The most obvious, but most superficial answer, is Rishi Sunak.

But “fresh” candidates – Mordaunt, Badenoch and Tugendhat – enjoy a markedly warmer welcome among people than the likes of Sunak and Truss.

Sean O’Grady explains what the outcome of the Tory leadership vote will mean for the next general election:


Tory leadership candidates’ branding efforts from best to worst

Five Conservative Party leadership hopefuls are jostling to make into the final two in the race to be the next prime minister, having made their appeal to MPs for support.

Rishi Sunak launched his campaign with a video about his upbringing, Penny Mordaunt raised eyebrows with some bombastic flag-waving, and Liz Truss played it safe by setting out her stall as the “trust” candidate.

Mark Borkowski, one of Britain’s top PR experts, said some of the remaining contenders had launched impressively “slick” campaigns – but still had a long way to go in connecting with the country the way Boris Johnson once did.

The communications professional ranked the candidates’ branding efforts, giving The Independent his verdict on how their presentational style might fare with party members and the wider public.

Read more from Adam Forrest here:


Liz Truss boosted by backing of ousted Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman says she will back Liz Truss to be the new Conservative leader after being ousted in the race to succeed Boris Johnson – in a move that dramatically heightens the stakes.

If Ms Braverman’s backers do likewise, the support will bring the foreign secretary within touching distance of second-placed Penny Mordaunt and boost Ms Truss’s campaign.

Sources have told The Independent the attorney-general will lend her vote to the foreign secretary in the third round of the battle to be PM.

My colleagues Jane Dalton and Chris Baynes have more details here:


‘No intention of stepping down’, Badenoch’s campaign says

Kemi Badenoch’s campaign said she is “in it to win” and has no intention of stepping down, after former Brexit minister Lord Frost’s called for her to quit the Tory leadership race in favour of Liz Truss.

In a statement, Ms Badenoch’s spokesperson said: “Kemi has brought interesting ideas and a new approach to this leadership contest. She is looking forward to the debates this weekend.”

She has no intention of stepping down and is in it to win.

Kemi Badenoch’s spokesperson


Tory leadership candidates urged to halt Channel 4 privatisation plans

Firms including those behind popular TV programmes such as Peaky Blinders, The Crown, and Ackley Bridge, have written an open letter to the candidates, adding their support to a campaign launched last month, co-ordinated by We Own It.

The 16 independent production companies are asking the candidates to commit to dropping the privatisation plan for Channel 4.

They believe the election of a new Prime Minister offers an opportunity to keep Channel 4 in public hands.

The open letter highlights that as a publicly owned broadcaster funded through advertising, Channel 4 does not cost the taxpayer a penny, instead returning a profit of £74 million last year and contributing £1 billion to the economy, supporting 10,000 jobs and 15,000 training opportunities.

Matthew Topham, We Own It lead campaigner, said: “Channel 4 is the levelling-up broadcaster. Its unique business model makes working in TV and film production a realistic dream, no matter where you live in the UK.”

If the Government is serious about levelling up, they need to protect Channel 4, not sell it off.

Matthew Topham, We Own It lead campaigner

“Right now, Channel 4 supports 10,000 jobs, with hubs in Leeds, Glasgow, Bristol, and Cardiff, but cuts to one in three regional jobs are predicted under a private Channel 4, and 60 independent production companies are expected to go bust if the plans go ahead.”


Lord Frost calls on Kemi Badenoch to withdraw from race in favour of Liz Truss

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has thrown his support behind Liz Truss as he urged Kemi Badenoch to pull out of the Tory leadership contest so there can be “unity among free marketeers”.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, the 57-year-old wrote: “Liz’s depth of experience, her energy and ideas – as well as the simple fact she has the most votes of the three – put her in the lead.”

“It is now time for pragmatism. I urge Kemi to stand down in return for a serious job in a Truss administration.”


Leadership race looms over police awards

The Police Bravery Awards is taking place tonight in central London, where officers from each force have been nominated for feats including fighting sword and axe-wielding men, chasing suspects after being stabbed, dragging people out of burning buildings and jumping into rivers to save lives.

Priti Patel received nominees at Downing Street earlier today but is not at the awards night, leaving the new policing minister, Tom Pursglove, leading the government delegation.

He told a hotel banquet suite packed with police officers that getting the call offering the policing minister job days ago after the government meltdown was a surprise but he “didn’t have to think for a second” before saying yes.

He was warmly received by officers after they were told both his parents served in the police, and he said taking the new ministerial post was the “honour of his life”.

Mr Pursglove says he hopes to keep his new job in September, although he is backing Liz Truss, who isn’t favoured to win the Tory leadership race.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, later appeared on stage to present one of the awards.

She said that whoever wins, it will be a “step forward to have a prime minister who doesn’t break the law”, sparking some cheers, applause and laughter from the gathered police officers.

Earlier in the evening, there was more measured applause for a recorded speech played on large video screens from Boris Johnson, who praised their bravery and pledged the government’s support for police.

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