Final two to be revealed in Tory leadership race as Johnson prepares for last PMQs

Politics

The final two candidates in the Conservative leadership contest will be decided today as the hopefuls edge closer to the top job – and Downing Street.

Three runners remain in the race – Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss – after Kemi Badenoch was knocked out of the competition on Tuesday.

They will face one more ballot from Tory MPs today, with the result announced at 4pm, before the top two embark on a summer of campaigning ahead of a vote by the wider party membership.

The winner is expected to be announced on 5th September.

Politics Hub: Truss and Mordaunt set for battle for final two

But as Conservative MPs focus on their next boss, their current one, Boris Johnson, will take part in his final appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions from 12pm.

While he will remain in post until the next leader is confirmed, Parliament is due to shut up shop for the summer recess this week, meaning no more appearances from Mr Johnson at the dispatch box as PM.

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He also held his final cabinet meeting in Number 10 on Tuesday, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace describing the mood as “one of sadness”.

He told Sky News that Mr Johnson had been “a very successful PM”, but added: “Politics is about people… it’s about people and what they need, and that’s what we’re all focused on in the Conservative Party.”

The last round of voting saw former chancellor Mr Sunak remain top of the polls with 118 votes, but still two shy of the 120 goal to guarantee a place in the final two.

Trade minister Ms Mordaunt stayed in second place with 92, gaining 10 votes on the previous round.

But Foreign Secretary Ms Truss is snapping at her heels on 86, having gained an extra 15 supporters.

Ms Badenoch only got the backing of 59 MPs, seeing her eliminated from the race, so all eyes will now be on where those votes move to in the final MP-only vote.

Results of fourth round of Conservative leadership contest
Image:
Results of fourth round of Conservative leadership contest

She has yet to announce who she will support, only tweeting to thank her backers and to say what her campaign had achieved in two weeks “demonstrates the level of support for our vision of change for our country and for the Conservative Party”.

Both Ms Mordaunt and Ms Truss praised the former equalities minister’s performance, saying she had “electrified the contest” and “contributed enormously to the battle of ideas”.

A few of her supporters also revealed their intentions, with defence minister Leo Docherty saying he would now back Ms Truss, while Sir Desmond Swayne got behind Mr Sunak.

But while it seems likely Mr Sunak will make it into the final two, the fight for second place will remain unknown until Sir Graham Brady announces the results this afternoon.

Ahead of the vote, the last three candidates also announced additional policies to bolster their campaigns.

Ms Mordaunt said she would introduce a Victims’ Bill to Parliament, Mr Sunak promised laws to crack down on grooming gangs and Ms Truss unveiled her plan to get “our economy moving” which she said would centre on tax cuts, deregulation and tough reform.

This morning, Mr Sunak also announced his intention to make the UK self-sufficient in energy production by 2045 in the latest policy announcement of his leadership campaign.

The former chancellor said he would scrap a plan to relax the ban on new onshore wind farms in England, instead focusing on offshore turbines.

Meanwhile, speaking to Sky News, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke – a supporter of Ms Truss – said the foreign secretary is “in touching distance of second place”.

On accusations that votes were lent to Ms Truss to boost her campaign, Mr Clarke added: “I have no insight into anything of that kind.”

The leadership contest was triggered after Boris Johnson announced he would be leaving Downing Street following an avalanche of ministerial resignations over his handling of the Chris Pincher scandal.

You can follow the result of the final ballot of Tory MPs for the party leadership at 4pm today on Sky News, online and on the app and on social media.

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