Sunak and Truss clear first Tory leadership hurdle as eight candidates survive nominations

12 July 2022, 18:03 | Updated: 12 July 2022, 21:12

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss survived round one
Mr Sunak and Ms Truss survived round one. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat have made it through to the next round of the Tory leadership contest, among eight to go to the first ballot round on Wednesday.

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Kemi Badenoch, attorney general Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi have also secured the backing of at least 20 MPs to go through.

The candidates will now go forward to Wednesday's round of MPs' voting, when they will need to secure at least 30 supporters.

The full backing of each candidate was not immediately revealed by Sir Graham Brady, the backbench 1922 Committee's chairman, who only stated if each politician had made it through.

Earlier, Sajid Javid, the ex-health secretary whose resignation preceded an avalanche of departures from Government that brought down Boris Johnson, dropped out just before the 6pm announcement of who had made the first cut.

He was joined by the unfavoured candidate Rehman Chisti, a little-known MP. Their decisions to withdraw meant all eight candidates remaining have made it through to Wednesday's ballot.

All candidates who secure the backing of 30 MPs each on Wednesday will then go through an exhaustive ballot process, with Conservative MPs voting repeatedly as the politician with the fewest backers is eliminated, whittling down the field until just two are left standing.

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Hunt 'worried' Sunak's economic policy would lead UK into recession

The winner between those two will be decided by the party's members.

Reacting to his clearing of the first hurdle, Mr Hunt, who lost to Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership race, told Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC: "It's a very wide, open race. At this stage in the last campaign I don't think people were predicting that I would be in the final with Boris Johnson, but as earlier people dropped out then their votes came to me."

He said two debates were being had in the party.

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"One of them is the economy, and what’s the right way forward for the economy, and the other is who can win the next election, and who can win both red wall and blue wall seats, because everyone recognises they are two very different types of seat," he said.

Partygate angered a "particular type of voter" and it was time for a break from the "culture" of Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister, he said. Mr Hunt, a former health secretary, said his tax cut plans were costed but "expensive".

Among his plans are a reduction of corporation tax from 19% - due to be increased under past Government plans - to 15%, to stimulate economic growth.

He admitted that is not a vote winner but said slashing personal taxes could be risky, economically.

"If you put money in people's pockets, welcome though it is, you risk stoking inflation, business tax cuts don't do that," he said.

Mr Sunak has launched a slick campaign
Mr Sunak has launched a slick campaign. Picture: Getty

Taking a swipe at apparent frontrunner Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, Mr Hunt said: "Rishi Sunak is increasing corporation tax, and it will be higher than not just America or Japan but France and Germany as well and I'm worried that on our current trajectory we're heading into recession and we'll be there for too long."

He added that he had "worried" upon hearing Mr Sunak's budget.

He also insisted that despite falling into the remain camp during the EU referendum, a non-Brexiteer could run the party.

Mr Hunt was accused of "dirty tricks" by Nadine Dorries, a Boris Johnson admirer who is backing foreign secretary Liz Truss's bid.

She claimed, with no evidence, that Mr Sunak's campaign was trying to boost support for Mr Hunt in the hope he could easily beat him and win the leadership.

The culture secretary tweeted: "Team Rishi want the candidate they know they can definitely beat in the final two and that is @Jeremy_Hunt".

"We are running completely independent campaigns," Mr Hunt said.

"It's a very dangerous game to play and so I think most people would be very wary before doing that sort of thing. I'm not saying it never happens."

Earlier on Tuesday, before the nomination results were announced, Mr Sunak has said he that he is not prepared to "demonise" caretaker PM Boris Johnson to gain the party leadership.

Liz Truss is viewed as being among the frontrunners in the contest
Liz Truss is viewed as being among the frontrunners in the contest. Picture: Getty

At his campaign launch in London, he said that while Mr Johnson was "flawed" and that he had often disagreed with him, he also had a "good heart".

"I will have no part in a rewriting of history that seeks to demonise Boris, exaggerate his faults or deny his efforts," he said.

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"I am running a positive campaign focused on what my leadership can offer our party and our country.

"I will not engage in the negativity you have seen and read in the media. If others wish to do that, then let them.

"That is not who we are. We can be better than that."

Suella Braverman said she was "honoured and excited" to make it through to the first MPs' ballot.

Mr Zahawi told LBC that he would bring forward income tax cuts to next year, but warned the country needed to "bear down on inflation".

He said "we all have to work together to tackle inflation because if we don't it's hugely harmful".

He said this meant teachers and nurses needed to "be disciplined about pay" amid growing anger over delays to public sector pay rises.

The Chancellor added: "This is a time where I have to say to all public sector workers, teachers, nurses, everyone else... we have to be disciplined about pay. That’s how I bring inflation down."

Mr Javid, who dropped out shortly before the nominations announcement, said: "There is an abundance of both ideas and talent in our party. One of the candidates will be given the honour of becoming Prime Minister.

"I look forward to seeing the debate unfold and to see colleagues working together as a united Conservative Party once the leadership election is concluded."

Mr Chisti failed to secure a single supporter.

"I will not be taking my campaign any further for the leadership of our party @Conservatives as I have not been able to secure the necessary parliamentary backing," he tweeted.

"My campaign was a bottom-up campaign with very few resources."