Braverman Backs Truss In Tory Leadership Race As Party's Right Picks Candidate

Attorney general and Brexiteer, who has been knocked out of the race, delivers blow to surging Penny Mordaunt.
.Suella Braverman has backed Liz Truss in the race to succeed Boris Johnson.
.Suella Braverman has backed Liz Truss in the race to succeed Boris Johnson.

Suella Braverman has backed Liz Truss in the race to be next Tory leader in a boost for the foreign secretary’s attempts to claw back Penny Mordaunt’s advantage.

Earlier on Thursday, the attorney general and Brexiteer – and the right of the party’s standard bearer in the battle – was knocked out of the leadership election after finishing last in the latest round of voting.

Braverman – who received 27 votes, putting her bottom of the pile behind the other five contenders – said she now supports Truss, who stands in third behind Mordaunt and frontrunner Rishi Sunak.

Support for the foreign secretary comes despite reservations about Truss campaigning against Brexit, though she has latterly been an enthusiast for leaving the European Union.

In a statement, Braverman said: “I’m really grateful to everyone who supported me in the leadership election. We need to come together as a party and deliver on the manifesto.

“Liz is the best person to unleash the opportunities of Brexit, and deliver much-needed tax cuts.

“I’m confident she will defend free speech, champion equality of opportunity and take a robust line on illegal immigration.

“It’s what the British people expect.”

The move suggests the right of the party is looking to rally round a single candidate. Though not all Braverman’s supporters will automatically swing behind Truss, influential Tory Steve Baker’s vote comes with her.

“Suella has my complete loyalty,” Baker said. “What she has decided, I will support.”

It also represents a blow to Kemi Badenoch, who is seen as the other right-wing hope to keep Sunak or Mordaunt – who both actually voted for Brexit – out of No 10. Allies of Boris Johnson have also backed Truss.

After her elimination, Braverman chose to repeatedly criticise Mordaunt, particularly over trans rights: “I think she said a trans woman is a woman, I disagree with that.”

Braverman was highlighting the ministerial and other maternity allowances act, where she claims Mordaunt, a minister overseeing the legislation, “did resist the inclusion of the word woman and the word mother and did only concede after unsustainable pressure from the House of Lords”.

Mordaunt, a trade minister, has in the past denied this, saying the original gender-neutral wording had been drafted by someone else and that she changed it to “use female terms”.

Sunak maintained his lead after the second ballot of Tory MPs, finishing top with 101 votes - 13 more than in yesterday’s first round.

Mordaunt finished second with 83 votes, up 16 from Wednesday, while Truss came third with 64, 14 more than the previous round.

Badenoch was in fourth with the support of 49 MPs, up from 40 in the last round, while Tom Tugendhat won the backing of 32, down from 37.

The remaining five candidates will now enter the third round of voting, which will take place on Monday.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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