Kemi Badenoch eliminated from the Tory leadership race leaving Sunak, Mordaunt and Truss

19 July 2022, 15:03 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 13:49

Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss remain in the Conservative Party leadership race
Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss remain in the Conservative Party leadership race. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Kemi Badenoch has been eliminated from the Tory leadership race after receiving the fewest votes on Tuesday.

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The field of candidates to replace Boris Johnson and become the next prime minister is now Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss.

Ms Badenoch took 59 votes. Mr Sunak leads with 118, Ms Mordaunt has 92 and Ms Truss 86.

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The candidates are being eliminated round-by-round until just two remain, when party members will choose the winner.

Ms Badenoch thanked her supporters on Twitter, adding: "What we've achieved demonstrates the level of support for our vision of change for our country and for the Conservative Party."

Her votes will now be crucial in deciding which candidates make the final two.

The campaign to elect Ms Truss as Tory leader urged Ms Badenoch's supporters to unite behind the Foreign Secretary.

"Now is the time for the party to unite behind a candidate who will govern in a Conservative way and who has shown she can deliver time and again," a campaign spokeswoman said.

Ms Mordaunt, who remains in second place after the latest ballot, insisted she was "so nearly across the finish line".

In a statement, she said: "This afternoon colleagues once again put their trust in me and I cannot thank them enough. We are so nearly across the finish line. I am raring to go and excited to put my case to members across the country and win."

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Tom Tugendhat, who exited the leadership race on Monday, said he was "sorry to see" Ms Badenoch eliminated.

He tweeted: "I'm sorry to see my friend Kemi Badenoch out of the leadership race.

"She has brought courage and substance to the argument and will add to the future government of the UK."

In an indication of how Mr Tugendhat's supporters have backed Ms Truss, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Foreign Secretary "will bring strong Tory economy policy, understanding of our responsibilities on the world stage and strength to deal with the tough choices".

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Ms Truss picked up 15 votes on the previous round, around half of the supporters Mr Tugendhat had.

Ms Mordaunt, who had hoped to pick up Mr Tugendhat's support, gained only 10.

Earlier, Ms Truss pledged to get defence spending up to 3% of gross domestic product by the end of the decade if she becomes prime minister.

Under current plans, spending is set to reach around 2.5% by 2030.

Ms Truss said: "We live in an increasingly dangerous world where the threat level is higher than a decade ago, and we need a stronger deterrent to face down those threats and ensure Britain leads on the global stage.

"Ultimately that requires more resources. My number one priority is keeping this country safe and people can trust me to do that."