Andrew Marr: 'There's a risk the Tory leadership contest could get very dirty'

20 July 2022, 18:22 | Updated: 20 July 2022, 18:27

Tory leadership will become a dogfight, Andrew Marr predicts

By Lauren Lewis

There is a risk the Tory leadership contest could get "very dirty", Andrew Marr has said.

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Opening LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the presenter predicted the Conservative leadership race could become a dog fight.

It comes after the leadership contest was narrowed down to two final candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, today after Penny Mordaunt was knocked out in a fifth round ballot.

"There is a real danger that this turns very dirty, very personal and, for the general public, very unedifying to watch," Andrew said.

"In their public clashing over tax and economy the two seem to genuinely dislike one another. Both have aspects of their private existences they don’t much want discussed in public."

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Andrew added: "It’s to be Rishi Suank vs Liz Truss. Two senior members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet, one who bailed out, one who didn’t. From the point of view of the Conservative party there is one good thing about this particular runoff.

"The right wing, including the Boris ultras who now mostly back Liz Truss are properly represented.

"There won’t be a huge swathe of the party which feels it’s been cut out and that’s good for the Tories, because it might mean the chance of them coming together once this is all over, is a bit better.

"But that is probably where the good news ends for them. In front of the party membership, not the MPs, Sunak moves from being frontrunner to challenger...

"And, of course, in the end the general public matters more than the Conservative membership, whose final verdict we get on September 5th."

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Andrew continued: "When a General Election comes, it may be different, but right now Labour’s Keir Starmer would beat Liz Truss by 14 points - a bigger Labour polling lead than either of the other Tory candidates.

"Meanwhile, there is the third virtual candidate hovering, even now, in the imagination of Tory members as they tear out the ballot papers from their envelopes next week.

"Boris Johnson in his final words to the Commons today sounded on one level relatively relaxed, but he broadly winked towards Liz Truss on tax cuts and the Treasury’s notorious lack of imagination.

"And note this, he quoted Arnie in Terminator 2: ‘Hasta la vista baby.’ And what’s that other Schwarzenegger saying that goes alongside it? ‘I’ll be back.’

"Now, Johnson knows his schlocky films, and there are three in this contest. Well folks, he is a slightly menacing warning from the future."