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Suella Braverman Eliminated From Tory Leadership Contest

Suella Braverman Eliminated From Tory Leadership Contest
4 min read

Suella Braverman has been knocked out of the race to succeed Boris Johnson as Tory leader and Prime Minister.

As the candidate with the least number of votes in the second round, the Attorney General was eliminated from the race on Thursday afternoon. 

There are now five candidates left in the contest to replace Johnson, who will step down in September: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat.

The result of the second round of voting was:

  • Rishi Sunak 101
  • Penny Mordaunt 83
  • Liz Truss 64
  • Kemi Badenoch 49
  • Tom Tugendhat 32
  • Suella Braverman 27

Further rounds of voting will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week, whittling the contest down to just two candidates.

The final two will spend several weeks partaking in hustings around the country before the winner, and the next Prime Minister, is chosen in a postal ballot of Conservative party members, and announced on 5 September. 

Braverman was backed by numerous Conservative MPs from the staunchly pro-Brexit, right-wing of the party.

The MP for Fareham had made the contentious pledge of tackling the ongoing issue of small boats crossing the Channel by taking the UK out of the European Convention of Human Rights. 

David Jones MP, who chaired Braverman’s campaign, told PoliticsHome: “She did very well, coming ahead of the current Chancellor and the former Foreign Secretary.

“In my view, she was the most compelling candidate. Her time will come."

There will now be questions over who Braverman's backers decide to support in the next round, with Mordaunt and Truss currently expected to battle it out for a place in the final two with Sunak.

While Sunak remains in the lead so far, the results today are further evidence of the volatility of the contest. Votes from 43 Tory MP were up for grabs after Nadhim Zahawi and Jeremy Hunt were eliminated on Wednesday, but Sunak picked up only 13 additional votes.

The outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May were considerably further ahead at this stage in the 2019 and 2016 contests. 

Mark Harper, who is backing Rishi Sunak, rejected the suggestion the former Chancellor was performing below expectations so far, saying the campaign was showing progress and was the first to hit triple figures, and are closing in on the 120 figure required to make it into the final two.

The former chief whip also attempted to shut down speculation that Sunak’s team was lending votes to other candidates to try and manipulate who went through each ballot.

“We're very clear people that are supporting Rishi are being asked to support Rishi and we're not doing any of those funny games that some people have suggested that we're doing," he said.

“Mel Stride is running our whipping operation. Mel is a very competent whip, he was a senior whip in my office, he's very straightforward about these things.

“We’re just being very straightforward with all our colleagues, and said if you support Rishi, then vote for Rishi.”

Truss, who has previously been expected to be a frontrunner in the competition, finished nearly 20 votes behind Mordaunt and faces a challenge in leapfrogging the Trade Minister to make it into the final two.

One of her backers, Treasury Minister Simon Clarke, admitted that it was "difficult round" for the Foreign Secretary but insisted that she would perform better next week.

Asked if they hoped that Liz would pick up the votes which had previously got to Braverman, Clarke said: “I very much hope so. Obviously, she and her supporters will have to have time to reflect, and we should always give people the time and the space of the result.

"But there's no question that this was a difficult round for Liz in so far as there wasn't that big of a pool of people for us to win support from.

“The next round, now that feels very different. So the job goes on."

Here is a breakdown of the results by how many votes candidates gained or lost:

  • Rishi Sunak 101 (+13)
  • Penny Mordaunt 83 (+16)
  • Liz Truss 64 (+14)
  • Kemi Badenoch 49 (+9)
  • Tom Tugendhat 32 (-5)
  • Suella Braverman 27 (-5)

Tugendhat, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair, will likely face pressure to drop out of the contest having lost the support of five MPs. However, the former soldier tweeted that he would fight on immediately following the result. 

A spokesperson for his campaign said: "Tom is in it to win it. He can’t wait to set out his positive vision for Britain and offer the party, and more importantly the country, the clean start we need.”

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