Sunak ally squirms as he’s confronted with dire polls versus Truss ‘Losing head to head!’

Tory leadership: Liam Fox questioned on Truss lead in polls

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Liam Fox has been grilled on Rishi Sunak’s chances of clawing back Liz Truss’s commanding lead amongst Conservative Party members after the former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary emerged as the final two leadership contenders. Polls show Ms Truss would beat Mr Sunak in the party members’ contest. 

Ms Ridge told the former Chancellor’s supporter: “[Rishi Sunak] did as you say get a bigger proportion of MPs then Liz Truss, but if you look at the membership polling according to YouGov Liz Truss has got a 20 point lead over Rishi Sunak.

“I mean the members don’t agree with you do they?”

Mr Fox replied: “If you go back Penny Mordaunt has a big lead, Kemi had a big lead. Rishi had a huge lead when people went back to the pandemic, and the fact that he brought in the measures that saved millions of jobs, that saved thousands of companies.”

“You’re going back quite a long way to do that,” interrupted Ms Ridge. “If you look at the recent polling Rishi is losing in the head to heads.”

 

Mr Sunak has led in all rounds of the voting among Conservative lawmakers, but it is Truss who seems to have gained the advantage so far among the 200,000 members of the governing party who will ultimately choose the winner.

The final stretch of a weeks-long contest will pit Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has raised the tax burden towards the highest level since the 1950s, against Truss, a convert to Brexit who has pledged to cut taxes and regulation.

Whoever triumphs when the result is announced on Sept. 5 will inherit some of the most difficult conditions in Britain in decades. Inflation is on course to hit 11% annually, growth is stalling, industrial action is on the rise and the pound is near historic lows against the dollar.

Britain under Johnson, and aided by Truss, also took a hard line against Brussels in its post-Brexit negotiations around Northern Ireland, drawing legal action from the European Union and threatening future trade ties.

 

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Eleven candidates originally put their names forward, but in a fifth and final ballot of Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday, the junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt was eliminated. Sunak won 137 votes, versus Truss’s 113 and Mordaunt’s 105.

Polls show Ms Truss would beat Mr Sunak in the party members’ contest, opening up the chance that the party elects a leader who was not the most popular choice for lawmakers at Westminster.

Ms Truss thanked her supporters. “I’m ready to hit the ground from day one,” she said on Twitter.

Mr Sunak said on Twitter: “Grateful that my colleagues have put their trust in me today. I will work night and day to deliver our message around the country.”

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Ms Mordaunt, who was just eight votes behind second-placed Truss, called on the party to unite after an often ugly leadership contest so far.

“Politics isn’t easy. It can be a divisive and difficult place,” she said in a statement. “We must all now work together to unify our party and focus on the job that needs to be done.”

The two finalists will now start weeks of hustings up and down the country before the party’s membership.

“This has been one of the most unpredictable contests to be the next Conservative leader in recent history,” said Chris Hopkins, the political research director at the polling company Savanta ComRes. “This has been very different to recent contests where you have had one clear favourite run away with it.”

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