Penny Mordaunt throws weight behind Truss as Rishis PM dream dealt another crippling blow

The trade minister, who narrowly missed out on getting into the final two of the leadership contest, is expected to introduce Ms Truss at the hustings in Exeter this evening. Getting the support of Ms Mordaunt would be a major coup for the Foreign Secretary and allows her to make the case for being the candidate who unites the left and right of the Tory Party.

In the final round of voting by MPs Ms Truss managed to leapfrog Ms Mordaunt into the final two having trailed her throughout the contest.

It was expected that Ms Mordaunt would then stay out of the contest or might even back Rishi Sunak because of bad blood allegedly between her camp and the Foreign Secretary’s.#

In particular it had been claimed that supporters of Ms Truss were behind briefings about Ms Mordaunt’s support for trans issues which were used against her in a briefing war by many on the right of the party.

In addition, another failed leadership candidate Suella Braverman also backed the Foreign Secretary after she was eliminated before the television debates.

She had publicly criticised Ms Mordaunt for blocking the word woman being included in emergency legislation for senior female ministers to take maternity leave.

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A source from Ms Truss’ campaign told “The plan, not confirmed yet, is that Penny [Mordaunt] introduces Liz at the hustings.

“It’s a real coup for Liz and shows the enormous amount of confidence colleagues have in her pitch to the party.”

An MP added: “Liz has made a successful appeal to the right of the party, particularly the Brexiteers, but this shows that she has a much wider appeal and can bring those in from the left too.”

Unlike Ms Truss, Ms Mordaunt was a supporter of the Leave campaign in 2016 but had failed to really convince the European Research Group (ERG) that she would make the most of Brexit.

Instead, the ERG backed Truss in a move which proved to be the difference in the last round where just four MPs were between the two women to take on former Chancellor Mr Sunak.

The Foreign Secretary already has the backing of another leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat from the Remainer, One Nation wing of the party as well as Ms Braverman.

Kemi Badenoch, who became the darling of the contest until she was eliminated, has not publicly said who she is backing.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who was eliminated early on, came out for Ms Truss this morning.


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However, Mr Sunak has picked up significant backers as well including former leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt and, this morning, former leader Lord Hague.

But the increasing public backing for Ms Truss is seen as a sign that she is on the cusp of winning a contest thanks to her optimistic view of Britain and rapid tax cutting agenda.

A poll by Redfield and Wilton made her the first Conservative politician since March to be able to beat Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, in yet another boost to her campaign.

Ballot papers have started arriving today with Tory members and the result will be announced on September 5.

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