Truss campaign on the ropes as Gove urges MPs to switch to rising star Kemi Badenoch

Michael Gove explains why he's backing Kemi Badenoch

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The Foreign Secretary, whose campaign has been criticised for lacking energy, failed to pick up the majority of Suella Braverman’s Brexiteer votes despite being endorsed by the European Research Group (ERG). Ms Truss collected just seven extra votes out of the 27 available while her rival Ms Badenoch moved up by nine.

Mr Gove, who has endorsed Ms Badenoch, said that supporters of Ms Truss may have “buyer’s remorse” about backing her and pointed out that if just seven switch she will be out.

If that happens Ms Badenoch will be contesting trade minister Penny Mordaunt for the second spot to take on Mr Sunak in the final run-off with members.

It came as former Chancellor Mr Sunak appeared to pull away in the contest with 115 votes among MPs.

Ms Mordaunt lost one vote and got 82 but Ms Truss was a further 11 behind on 71 after her team had hoped she would surge past the trade minister.

But the other big winner was Ms Badenoch who gained nine votes to end up on 58.

Mr Gove appeared on LBC earlier with Andrew Marr where he insisted Ms Badenoch “is ready to be Prime Minister.”

He defended her lack of cabinet experience compared to the five top jobs held by Ms Truss.

He said: “She has more ministerial experience than Tony Blair or David Cameron had when they became Prime Minister.

“Also, she is the same age as Rishi [Sunak] and she has been in Government in three very different roles, all of which she has accomplished successfully.

I know all the candidates, they either worked with me as junior ministers or supported me in previous leadership contests.

“I have no hesitation in saying that Kemi was undoubtedly the outstanding minister.

“She has an intellectual grasp second to none, she has an ability to communicate with empathy and also she is brave.”

He added: “It is a rare junior minister who tells their secretary of state to get off because they were doing something wrong, Kemi did that to me repeatedly.

“It’s that confidence combined with that understanding of first principles that you want in a leader.”

Comparing her to David Cameron and Ruth Davidson, he added: “Kemi has something special.”

He added that the “logic of wanting a clean start” from Tugendhat backers means they would be “attracted to Kemi”.

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Ms Badenoch also received a boost in a poll which showed that her core message of “being truthful” was going down well with voters in marginal constituencies.

According to the findings by polling company Techne UK, 91 percent of Tory voters in the marginal constituencies “strongly agreed” when asked if they valued truth over experience.

Ms Badenoch’s mantra throughout the leadership bid has been to say “I will tell you the truth”, a message she has repeated to MPs, on hustings events and in the TV debates.

Overall, more than half, 54 percent, strongly agreed telling the truth was more important than experience while another 14 percent agreed.

Polling took place in a range of Tory marginal seats around the country including new Red Wall wins from 2019 such as Bishop Auckland and Bolton East and longer held seats now under threat like former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford and Woodford Green.

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