Tory leadership latest news: Truss team denies Mordaunt ‘black-ops’ campaign ahead of TV debate


Conservative leadership race: Who is Penny Mordaunt?

Allies of Liz Truss have denied involvement in a “black ops” campaign against Penny Mordaunt ahead of the first television debate for the remaining Tory leadership candidates this evening.

Ms Mordaunt has been attacked by a supporter of the foreign secretary, Lord David Frost, who claimed she failed to “master the detail” when she was his deputy as Brexit minister.

However, transport minister Wendy Morton, appearing on Times Radio, said Ms Truss is “absolutely not” involved in any kind of untoward campaign.

Meanwhile, Lord Frost has urged Kemi Badenoch to pull out of the Tory leadership contest and back the foreign secretary.

He called for “unity among free marketeers” and praised Ms Badenoch but said she should withdraw “in return for a serious job in a Truss administration”.

His remarks come as Ms Mordaunt has narrowed the gap with Rishi Sunak and increased her lead over Ms 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.


Boris Johnson is on his way out – but the Tory rot runs deeper than one leader

The decision by Boris Johnson to block a vote of no confidence shows he is ending his political career as he conducted it: rule-breaking, undemocratic and opposed to all accountability. Of course the Tories backed his decision.

The signal the Labour Party was trying to send remains. There cannot be any confidence in a government that has done such damage to our country since it was elected in just December 2019.

Similarly, in a reversal of the New Labour theme song, there is confidence that things can only get worse under any of the possible successors to Boris Johnson, writes Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

Equally clear is the signal that Labour is the alternative, that we stand ready, that we can win the next general election. On all current polling we are likely to win.

This is the very good reason that it is extremely unlikely there will be a snap election called by the eventual victor in the Tory party race, and why the vote of no confidence was blocked. It has nothing to do with stability or constitutional propriety. It has everything to do with electoral calculation and the risk of a Tory drubbing.


Kemi Badenoch should not be judged for a lack of experience, says Tory MP

Tory MP Justin Tomlinson denied that Kemi Badenoch, one of the contenders to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader, should be judged for a lack of experience.

He told Times Radio: “The most important part of experience is pure ability, and I didn’t know Kemi personally before I supported her campaign, but I’ve seen her first-hand – select committees, despatch box, inter-ministerial meetings – and she really stood head and shoulders above many of our very talented colleagues.

“She has had two years’ more experience than both David Cameron and Tony Blair, who both went and did very well in elections.

“And, ultimately, this all comes down to elections. We’re facing an unprecedented fifth term, and to do that we need a fresh start, where we’ve fully renewed.

“Nobody offers a better chance, particularly for my Red Wall and Blue Wall colleagues, to make sure they are re-elected.”


What time are the Tory leadership debates and how can I watch them?

Just five candidates remain in the Conservative Party leadership race following Thursday’s second round of voting.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, attorney general Suella Braverman, ex-health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt and transport secretary Grant Shapps have already dropped out after failing to amass the support needed.

That leaves ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak as the front-runner to replace Boris Johnson, the very man whose resignation last week marked the beginning of the end for the scandal-hit prime minister.

Junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt, foreign secretary Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat make up the rest of the pack.

The contest now reaches its TV debate stage, with the surviving quintet squaring up three times in five days to thrash out their policy positions on key areas of national concern such as the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the recent resurgence of coronavirus.

Joe Sommerlad has the details.


Partygate: MPs investigating Boris Johnson demand photographs and PM’s diaries

MPs investigating whether Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal have demanded a tranche of documents, including the prime minister’s diaries and photographs of events.

The Committee of Privileges wrote to Mr Johnson and the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, on Friday to seek documents before beginning its evidence sessions in September — after the summer recess.

Ordering No 10 to release documents, MPs requested Mr Johnson’s diaries for eight dates, including the 19 June 2020 when a birthday gathering was held in the Cabinet Room for the prime minister.

Ashley Cowburn has the latest on this breaking story.


It will be a ‘key weekend’ for Tugendhat, says Tory MP

Tory MP Jake Berry said it will be a “key weekend” for Tom Tugendhat as live debates begin in the Conservative Party leadership contest.

He said it has been an “extraordinary performance” for Mr Tugendhat to get this far.

“He has had so much support from across the party, and wider, in terms of being able to get into this phase and to set out his case,” he told Sky News.

“It is all up in the air,” he said.

Mr Berry said it is up to the other candidates to prove they have fresh ideas for the party.

“I think the sense of a clean break is immensely important.”


Keir Starmer scraps pledge to end NHS private sector outsourcing

Keir Starmer has dropped a policy pledge to end private sector outsourcing in the NHS, disappointing some Labour supporters.

In an interview on Thursday night the opposition leader was asked whether he stood by a leadership campaign commitment to end private sector involvement in the health service.

He replied: “Well look, there is some private provision in the NHS and we’re likely to have to continue with that.”

Jon Stone has the details.


Transport minister denies Truss leadership bid is involved in ‘black ops’ campaign against Mordaunt

Transport minister Wendy Morton has denied that the team behind Liz Truss’s leadership bid is involved in a so-called “black ops” campaign against rival Penny Mordaunt.

Ms Mordaunt has so far outpolled the Foreign Secretary in the two ballots of Tory MPs. Ms Morton, appearing on Times Radio, said she is “absolutely not” involved in any kind of untoward campaign.

“What I am involved in is a campaign to get Liz Truss elected as the next leader of the Conservative Party because I happen to think, I know, that she’s the right candidate.

“I worked with her at the Foreign Office and I saw first-hand how hard-working she is, how dedicated she is, and how she just gets on with the job and she delivers.”

She said the Truss camp is not concerned about the lead Ms Mordaunt has maintained against the Foreign Secretary.

“You know, we have still got rounds of voting to go, there are still candidates, there are colleagues out there who have not declared for a candidate, there are colleagues who have voted for candidates who have now dropped out of the race. So it’s all to play for.”


Labour frontbencher says Tory leadership race is turning into ‘a circus’

Labour frontbencher says Tory leadership race is turning into ‘a circus’


Tory MP rages at ‘failed minister’ Frost

Tory MP Simon Hoare has hit out at Lord Frost over his suggestion that Kemi Badenoch should withdraw from the Tory leadership race.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Hoare rages that “who the hell is an unelected, failed Minister to tell any MP what to do?”

He adds that “for some unknown reason David Frost perpetually thinks we give a flying xxxx what he thinks. We don’t and we won’t.”


Brexiteers clash over Truss v Badenoch

The Sun’s Jack Elsom is reporting that the ERG group of hardline Brexiteers in the Tory party are not united on which candidate they want to back for the leadership race.

WhatsApp messages revealed that chair of the ERG Mark Francois has urged the group to get behind Liz Truss.

But he received immediate pushback from Andrew Lewer, who said he supported Kemi Badenoch, and Lee Anderson who said a statement should have been released after the TV debates, the first of which begins on Friday evening.

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