LBC Views: Sunak and Mordaunt are leadership favourites, but Penny has the edge

20 October 2022, 19:03 | Updated: 21 October 2022, 07:59

Political Editor Theo Usherwood analyses the Tory Leadership race
Political Editor Theo Usherwood analyses the Tory Leadership race. Picture: Global
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

It’s usually custom for Conservative leadership elections to start with quite a wide field and then narrow it down over a series of voting rounds to a final two that goes before the membership. 

In the summer, the lowest bar set was 30 backers to make it through round one. But this time, Sir Graham Brady - chairman of the 1922 committee - has set an extraordinarily high bar.

So any MPs who want to be considered will need at least 100 supporters. One of the implications of this threshold is that it will make it very difficult for Boris Johnson to make it before the members. Even before he became Prime Minister, he didn’t have a significant following in Parliament.

He is said to be flying back from holiday in the Caribbean right now.

But given the turmoil over the last few weeks, and the nature in which his first stint ended, it’s very difficult to see how Conservative MPs struggling to get to grips with the harsh reality the country now finds itself in, would see Boris Johnson as the answer. 

And so it’s likely the final two would consist of Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak. If these two went before the membership, it’s highly likely the Commons leader would win.

Will that happen? It’s perfectly possible, but she will come under significant pressure to drop out and let the former Chancellor take the helm, and then take a senior position in his government in return. 

After the last six weeks, and the fact Liz Truss was clearly not up to the job in hand, Tory MPs are trying to salvage whatever credibility they can.

Mr Sunak has the Treasury experience to at least get the economy on an even footing. In the summer, many Tory MPs came to the view in the final round of voting that it was not the time for a novice, as they rowed in late behind Liz Truss. That was obviously a mistake and it is probably not one they want to repeat. 

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