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Andrew Marr: 'Hunt, Sunak and Mordaunt are the three contenders to replace Liz Truss as PM'
18 October 2022, 18:24 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 18:26
Jeremy Hunt, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt are the three front-runners to replace Liz Truss as Prime Minister, Andrew Marr has said.
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Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, Andrew said that all three candidates are "eyeing one another and wondering who will blink first".
Andrew said: "The gods of news are fickle. There are days when huge stories happen in front of the cameras and mics and life as a journalist is easy. Yesterday was one of those days.
"And there are days when whatever happens silently, behind closed doors. And you do whatever you like – make a blood sacrifice of a young researcher, set fire to a heap of laptop computers and dance round them, and none of it makes a blind bit of difference. The news gods don’t care. And today, friends, is one of those days.
"Stuff’s happening alright. The government is hinting about drastic cuts ahead - lower pensions perhaps, cuts to health and welfare, short-term cuts, even, to defence.
"But this might be what we call kite flying: trying out ideas for cuts to see which would cause the most political trouble, and preparing the ground, so that whatever is finally announced on Halloween doesn't seem quite so bad compared to the ghoulish predictions."
He went on: "Now yesterday, I said I thought which individual actually became prime minister after Liz Truss was less important, outside the bubble, than the economic crisis confronting us all. I still think that.
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Andrew Marr challenges Robert Buckland on his support for Liz Truss
"But, for what it's worth, there seem to be three people eyeing each other and wondering which will replace Liz Truss.
"One is the effective Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt. He's got a timing issue. The longer he’s running the shop, the more established he will seem and the stronger his position. But if he leaves it too long, his will be the face of Tory cuts and he doesn't want that.
"Then there is Rishi Sunak, the most powerful critic of the disastrous Truss economic experiment. He’d be most feared by Labour because the country remembers him from the pandemic - but inside the Tory Party there are too many Boris Johnson supporters who view him as the destroyer of their hero. If he's to get the top job he needs the help of others.
"The third person in the ring is Penny Mordaunt. Some say Boris Johnson kept her away from the despatch box in the Commons because she was too good and he didn't want to be overshadowed. Well, she was very good yesterday. On balance, this might be a moment to pop out and buy a few Mordaunts.
"But all day the three of them were eyeing one another and wondering who will blink first. Not literally. They're not actually in the same room. Perhaps soon they will be. But no one's blinking yet."
Andrew continued: "The last thing that happened was that the cabinet minister most favoured by party members as the next prime minister, the defence secretary Ben Wallace, went to Washington at short notice."
"What did he mean by that? Was he just trying to show that you could go to Washington without being sacked? Was it some kind of obscure plot?
"No, I don't think so. I’m told he went to talk to the Americans about what the UK and the US would do if Putin uses a tactical nuclear weapon, blurring the lines as he once did with biological and chemical weapons in Syria; or if the nuclear power station at Zhaphoritza is hit and a plume starts to spread west, or if the Russians succeed in shutting down Ukraine's energy system this winter.
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"Scary stuff. Sometimes if the news God's aren't playing nice, perhaps, it's safer to leave them alone."