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Penny Mordaunt Is Confident She Can Win Over Tom Tugendhat Backers In Tory Leadership Crunch Vote

2 min read

Tory leadership frontrunner Penny Mordaunt is confident that she will pick up a significant number of Tom Tugendhat backers when Tory MPs vote in a critical round of the leadership contest today, according to those running her campaign.

Tugendhat, the foreign affairs select committee chair, was eliminated from the contest on Monday after ranking bottom with 31 votes. Rishi Sunak retains a strong lead in the contest, meaning Tugendhat's backers will have a significant impact on where Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch land in the fourth round of MPs' voting today.

A Mordaunt campaign source said "we're in a good spot" and that the MP currently holding second place has relatively strong ties with many of the MPs who supported Tudendhat by virtue of being in the One Nation group together.

"They know Penny. She is not coming at this from scratch. They are in the same caucus," they told PoliticsHome on Tuesday morning ahead of voting getting underway this afternoon.

The race to suceed Boris Johnson as Tory party leader and Prime Minister is highly unpredictable, with Mordaunt, foreign secretary Truss and former minister Badenoch all vying for a spot in the final two with frontrunner Rishi Sunak. 

The 31 MPs who backed Tugendhat will hold meetings with the four remaining candidates before meeting at 1pm to decide how they will vote this afternoon, PoliticsHome understands.

However, an ally of the former soldier said it was very unlikely that they would move as one, with the bloc expected to be split between Mordaunt and ex-Chancellor Sunak.

Mordaunt's campaign hopes that she will secure enough votes from Tugendhat supporters this afternoon to take a big step towards a place on the final ballot, and make it very difficult for Truss or Badenoch to leapfrog her at the final MP vote on Wednesday.

The Mordaunt campaign also expects to recieve some high-profile endorsements in the coming days, PoliticsHome understands.

Conservative MPs will whittle the contest down to three candidates this afternoon, with the result being announced at 3pm, before deciding the final two in a vote tomorrow.

The final two will spend several weeks partaking in hustings around the country before Conservative party members choose the winner – and the next Prime Minister – in early December.

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