Kemi Badenoch ‘disappointed’ after ‘friend’ Suella Braverman backs Liz Truss

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Suella Braverman came out in support for Liz Truss after failing to make the next stage in the race to replace Boris Johnson. The Attorney General had 27 votes, five fewer than she had in Wednesday’s first round of the contest despite the field being smaller on Thursday. Ms Badenoch, who came in fourth behind Ms Truss at 49, said she is “disappointed” that her friend did not back her.

Ms Badenoch told LBC: “I am disappointed. Suella and I are friends, I’m friends with Tom Tugendhat as well, Rishi and Liz were my senior ministers, so it’s all very close to home.

“We’re all friends, so every time someone supports one person there’s another person that’s been let down. 

“But I’m in it to win it.

“I know people want to support the person that they think is most likely to give them a job, or who has been there the longest, that’s the easy thing to do, the tough thing to do is to take a risk and try something different.”

Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt have maintained their places at the front of the Tory leadership race.

Mr Tugendhat also dropped five votes but insisted he would not quit the race, saying: “I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t plan to start now.”

Ms Mordaunt gained the most votes, putting on 16 from Wednesday’s total.

Mr Sunak put on an extra 13 votes and is closing in on the 120 votes required to guarantee a place in the final two, who will face a vote of the Tory membership to decide the next party leader and prime minister.

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Ms Truss, who made a campaign launch speech earlier on Thursday, gained 14 votes but will hope that she can serve as a standard-bearer for the party’s right, picking up supporters from not only Ms Braverman but also Ms Badenoch, who is under pressure from the Foreign Secretary’s allies to pull out of the contest.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, a Truss supporter, said: “Now is the time for us all to unite behind a candidate who actually has the ability to lead the country as PM.”

Ms Badenoch said she is “disappointed” that Ms Braverman was not backing her, and suggested an offer of a future Cabinet job could have been behind the decision.

“I know people want to support the person that they think is most likely to give them a job, or who has been there the longest, that’s the easy thing to do, the tough thing to do is to take a risk and try something different,” she told LBC radio.

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Ms Braverman earlier singled out Ms Mordaunt for criticism, accusing her of failing to stand up for women in her apparent support of trans rights issues and of not being an “authentic Brexiteer”.

“My perception of Penny is she takes a different view to me when it comes to gender ideology and the position of trans, for example I think she said a trans woman is a woman, I disagree with that,” she told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

The attack was the latest in a contest which became increasingly vicious on Thursday, with allies of Ms Truss seizing on comments from former Brexit minister Lord Frost about Ms Mordaunt’s competence.

He told TalkTV: “She was my deputy – notionally, more than really – in the Brexit talks last year.”

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