Nadine Dorries Fuels Tory Leadership Election 'Dirty Tricks' Row

Boris Johnson ally accuses Rishi Sunak's team of engaging in "the dark arts" to get Jeremy Hunt on the ballot.
Rishi Sunak, Nadine Dorries and Jeremy Hunt.
Rishi Sunak, Nadine Dorries and Jeremy Hunt.
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Nadine Dorries has accused Rishi Sunak’s team of pulling “dirty tricks” as the race to become the next prime minster descended into Tory infighting.

Culture secretary Dorries, a Boris Johnson loyalist, suggested “a stitch up” had taken place to allow Jeremy Hunt make into the first ballot of MPs in the Conservative leadership contest – making Sunak’s path to the top job easier, she suggests.

Sunak is facing concerted efforts by Johnson’s allies to prevent Sunak entering No 10 after what they see as his disloyalty after resigning as chancellor last week, and helping end his premiership.

Moments after it was announced eight contenders will be on the ballot paper when Tory MPs begin voting on Wednesday to elect a successor to Johnson, Dorries took to Twitter to claim that one of Sunak’s supporters – ex-chief whip Gavin Williamson – had been trying to “syphon off” votes for Hunt so he would make it to the final run-off with Sunak.

“This is dirty tricks/a stitch up/dark arts. Take your pick. Team Rishi want the candidate they know they can definitely beat in the final two and that is Jeremy Hunt,” she tweeted.

Allies of Sunak hit back at the claim by Dorries.

A source close to Sunak told HuffPost UK: “It’s totally untrue – just more anti-Rishi stuff rather than based in any facts. I think she is just upset about Boris.”

The claim was also denied by Hunt, who told LBC radio: “We are running completely independent campaigns.

“It’s a very dangerous game to play and so I think most people would be very wary before doing that sort of thing. I’m not saying it never happens.”

Backers of Hunt believe that he will be able to amass the required minimum of 30 votes in the first ballot.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has gained the endorsement of prominent Johnson loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg and James Cleverly, as well as Dorries.

The other candidates still standing are Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman after they all secured the 20 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the contest.

Candidates must now win at least 30 votes from party colleagues to progress, with the candidate coming bottom – plus those who failed to win enough support of 30 MPs – eliminated.

This process will continue until only two hopefuls are left.

The second phase of the election will see around 200,000 paid-up members of the Conservative party vote on which of the two remaining candidates they prefer. Whoever comes out on top after that will be the new prime minister, with the final result due on September 5.


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