Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Tory Leadership LIVE: Rishi may be frontrunner – but he's by no means a dead cert

Although Rishi Sunak leads the pack with 101 MPs backing him in the second round of voting, surprise candidates who were less well known before the race – for example Penny Mordaunt who is now besting Liz Truss – shouldn’t be discounted, according to a political commentator.

The Conservative party has a long history of electing underdogs, and first round winners who went on to become the Tory leader often had more votes than Mr Sunak. As the establishment candidate, Mr Sunak’s lead is somewhat expected. He, and perhaps Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, are the most household names in the race.

Former Sky News political editor Adam Boulton notes even Tory behemoth Margret Thatcher was considered an underdog at the time of her first leadership contest.

Writing for Sky News, he said: “There is a long list of leadership winners who were not the bookies’ favourites when the Conservative party’s selection processes began – including Alec Douglas-Home, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May. All became Prime Minister.”

With more secret votes coming from calculating MPs shifting support as their top pick gets knocked out, it isn’t hard to imagine Penny Mordaunt making up the 13 vote deficit she currently holds against the former Chancellor.

Nor is it impossible for Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to pick up the Johnson loyalists’ votes as candidates get knocked out of the race. It has even been reported that the outgoing Prime Minister has privately stated that he would support any candidate bar Rishi Sunak in the leadership race.

More of a longshot, but not totally impossible, is that underdogs Tom Tugendhat and Badenoch pick up enough votes to pass one of the top leadership picks.

As the candidates head into a debate at 7.00pm tonight on ITV, for now, it’s anybody’s race.



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