‘Anyone but Rishi’: Boris Johnson is ‘urging defeated Tory candidates to back Sunak’s rivals’ and the whole No10 team ‘hates the former Chancellor for bringing down the PM’
- Johnson has said he will not publicly endorse any Tory leadership candidate
- He has reportedly told failed candidates that he wants anyone but Sunak to win
- Sources told The Times that Johnson resents Sunak for resigning and ultimately leading to his downfall as PM, while No10 ‘hate’ the former chancellor
- The newspaper reported that Johnson’s preference would be for Liz Truss to win
- But he is also open to the possibility of Penny Mordaunt being his successor
- The Times said Johnson wants ‘anyone but Rishi’ to replace him in No10
Boris Johnson is pushing for failed Tory leadership candidates to back ‘anyone but Rishi’ Sunak, it was claimed today, amid reports that the whole team at 10 Downing Street ‘hates’ the former chancellor for causing the PM’s downfall.
Johnson, who announced last week that he will step down as party leader when his replacement is decided, has said he will not publicly endorse any candidate or get involved in the increasingly bitter leadership race.
However, Johnson has reportedly made clear in private discussions with failed leadership hopefuls that Sunak should not be his successor.
Citing a source close to one such conversation, The Times said Johnson appeared to be most enthusiastic about his Foreign Secretary Liz Truss becoming Prime Minister.
Truss has been publicly backed by some of Johnson’s closest cabinet allies – including Nadine Dorries, Jabob Rees-Mogg and attorney general Suella Braverman – but has come third in the two rounds of voting that have been held so far.
Sunak – Johnson’s former chancellor – came out on top of Thursday’s voting, and in second was Penny Mordaunt, who was also bearing the brunt of the attacks from rival camps as she gained the most momentum.
The Times reported that Johnson has indicated he would also be open to Mordaunt succeeding him if it meant that Sunak did not win the leadership election.
Boris Johnson (pictured leaving 10 Downing Street on Wednesday) wants failed Tory leadership candidates to back ‘anyone but Rishi’ Sunak, according to reports today
A source told The Times: ‘The whole No 10 team hates Rishi. It’s personal. It’s vitriolic. They don’t blame Saj [Sajid Javid] for bringing him down. They blame Rishi. They think he was planning this for months.’
The former chancellor resigned last week minutes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid, sparking a slew of further resignations that ultimately led to the PM’s downfall.
Another Times source claimed that Johnson had voiced concerns that Sunak would go ‘soft’ on Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, and ease sanctions on Russia.
An ally of Johnson’s told The Times that it was untrue the PM wanted ‘anyone but Rishi’, but confirmed there is a resentment over his resignation – as well as the fact that Sunak had not presented a growth strategy in his last months as chancellor.
‘Alongside the sense of betrayal is a sense of regret about what could have already been well under way,’ they told the newspaper.
An ally of Sunak denied to The Times that he would go soft on Putin.
In Thursday’s vote, Sunak picked up 101 votes, Mordaunt 83, Truss 64, Kemi Badenoch 49 and Tom Tugendhat 32.
A source told The Times that it’s ‘personal’ and ‘vitriolic’ between Johnson and Rishi Sunak (pictured Thursday) after the former chancellor resigned last week minutes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid, sparking further resignations that ultimately led to the PM’s downfall
Braverman had 27 votes, five fewer than she had in Wednesday’s first round of the contest despite the field being smaller on Thursday.
In the first ballot, current chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt were both eliminated after not received enough votes to make it through into the second round.
The next round of voting is due on Monday, with subsequent rounds if required until two candidates are left, who will then battle it out over the summer to win the support of Conservative members. Their choice of the next prime minister will be announced on September 5.
Johnson will then formally tender his resignation to the Queen to make way for his successor the following day.
The five surviving Tory leader hopefuls will cross swords for the first time today in a TV debate . Channel 4 is hosting the first showdown for the prospective PMs at 7.30pm on Friday, with the channel saying all five had confirmed they will take part.
Further televised clashes are scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday.
Citing a source close to one such conversation, The Times said Johnson appeared to be most enthusiastic about his Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (pictured Thursday) becoming PM
The Times also reported that Johnson has indicated he would also be open to Penny Mordaunt (pictured Wednesday) succeeding him if it meant that Sunak did not come out victorious
Tory leadership race: Round two vote result
Rishi Sunak: 101 (+13)
Penny Mordaunt: 83 (+16)
Liz Truss: 64 (+14)
Kemi Badenoch: 49 (+9)
Tom Tugendhat: 32 (-5)
Suella Braverman: 27 (-5)
Braverman came out in support of Truss, describing the Foreign Secretary as the ‘best person to unleash the opportunities of Brexit’ and deliver tax cuts, as the right of the party seeks to rally round a single candidate.
Taking influential Tory Steve Baker’s vote with her, it was a blow to Kemi Badenoch, who was facing pressure to pull out and back Truss to keep Sunak or Mordaunt out of No 10.
Sources close to Braverman told the PA news agency she made the decision after holding talks with Truss.
In a statement, Braverman said: ‘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.’
Baker, who had been backing Braverman, told PA: ‘Suella has my complete loyalty. What she has decided, I will support.’
Tugendhat also dropped five votes but insisted he would not quit the race as the remaining contenders progress to a round of televised debates.
‘I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t plan to start now,’ the senior backbencher said.
Mordaunt gained the most votes, adding 16 from Wednesday’s total.
Sunak won an extra 13 votes and is closing in on the 120 votes required to guarantee a place in the final two, who will face a vote of the Tory membership to decide the next party leader and prime minister.
Truss, who made a campaign launch speech earlier on Thursday, gained 14 votes but will hope that she can serve as a standard-bearer for the party’s right, picking up supporters from not only Braverman but also Badenoch.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost, who does not get a vote as a Tory peer, came out in support of Truss, urging Badenoch to pull out of the contest so there can be ‘unity among free marketeers’.
Attorney General Suella Braverman (pictured Thursday) was knocked out of the leadership contest after recieving 27 votes, five fewer than she had in Wednesday’s first round of the contest despite the field being smaller on Thursday
‘Kemi and Suella Braverman set out convincing programmes, with differing emphases, for change. But Liz’s depth of experience, her energy and ideas – as well as the simple fact she has the most votes of the three – put her in the lead.
‘It is now time for pragmatism. I urge Kemi to stand down in return for a serious job in a Truss administration.’
He also stepped up his attacks on Mordaunt, saying she was ‘absent on parade’ when he worked with her on post-Brexit negotiations last year.
Badenoch said she is ‘disappointed’ that Braverman was not backing her and suggested an offer of a future Cabinet job could have been behind the decision.
‘I know people want to support the person that they think is most likely to give them a job, or who has been there the longest, that’s the easy thing to do, the tough thing to do is to take a risk and try something different,’ she told LBC radio.
Braverman earlier singled out Mordaunt for criticism, accusing her of failing to stand up for women in her apparent support of trans rights issues and of not being an ‘authentic Brexiteer’.
‘My perception of Penny is she takes a different view to me when it comes to gender ideology and the position of trans, for example I think she said a trans woman is a woman, I disagree with that,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.
The attack was the latest in a contest which became increasingly vicious on Thursday, with allies of Truss seizing on comments from Lord Frost about Mordaunt’s competence.
‘I felt she did not master the detail that was necessary in the negotiations last year. She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary,’ he told TalkTV.
‘She wasn’t fully accountable, she wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was. This became such a problem that, after six months, I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on and find somebody else to support me.’
The former minister’s remarks were highlighted by the Truss campaign, with Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clarke saying the warning was ‘a really serious one’.
Clarke told Sky News: ‘It is telling, I think, where current members of the Government are placing their support.
‘That is reflected in a number of very senior ministers’ decisions about who to support in this race – they are not backing Mordaunt.’
Former cabinet minister David Davis, a supporter of Mordaunt, criticised the ‘black ops’ being directed at her.
‘I wouldn’t describe it as friendly fire,’ he said. ‘It’s absolutely clockwork – you get to the point that somebody gets ahead and looks to be the real challenger and then the black op starts, the incoming fire starts.’
Mordaunt supporter George Freeman accused rival campaigns of weaponising trans rights issues because they are ‘desperate’ in the campaign for No 10.
The former minister told BBC Newsnight: ‘This is beginning to get a rough campaign, it’s a shame. Penny has shocked by breaking through and now people are fighting hard.
‘I think it is a real shame to see this issue being weaponised and used as another part of the culture war/division politics which Penny has made very clear she wants to end when she’s prime minister and focus on unity.’
He added: ‘I think it is a shame – to put it mildly – that David is using this as a chance to fight old battles.’
When DID Rishi Sunak decide to knife his old boss? Leadership hopeful struggles under pressure to explain when he turned on Boris Johnson
By Harriet Line For The Daily Mail
Rishi Sunak yesterday struggled when he was put under pressure to explain when exactly he decided to knife Boris Johnson.
In an awkward interview, the Tory leadership frontrunner was asked when he realised Mr Johnson ‘wasn’t in your view a good Prime Minister’.
He repeatedly dodged the question, insisting that ‘leaving government and resigning as chancellor was an incredibly difficult decision for me – it wasn’t a decision I took lightly’.
Mr Sunak, whose dramatic resignation last Tuesday helped trigger the downfall of the Prime Minister, eventually answered that he decided to quit the Cabinet ‘when I resigned’.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told the BBC’s Radio 4 that he decided to leave Cabinet ‘when I resigned’ – and refused to be drawn on when he decided that Boris Johnson was not a good Prime Minister
Mr Sunak, who has been criticised for having held a US Green Card including for some time while he was chancellor, said: ‘I was living and working and studying in America at the time but after that I returned to the United Kingdom and decided to try and serve my country as an MP’
Critics suggested Mr Sunak sounded evasive and thin-skinned during the interview with BBC Radio 4.
The former chancellor was also forced to defend the role of Sir Gavin Williamson in his campaign during his BBC Radio 4 Today programme appearance.
Rival camps have suggested the ex-chief whip has been involved in ‘dirty tricks’ to ensure Mr Sunak faces a candidate he would be more likely to defeat in the final run-off of party members.
Mr Sunak insisted Mel Stride is running the parliamentary aspect of his campaign, not Sir Gavin, but refused to say what his role is.
‘Like all the Members of Parliament who are on my team, they are talking to colleagues and making the case for my candidacy because they believe that I am the best person to beat Keir Starmer and the Labour Party and I’m really grateful for all their support,’ he said.
Mr Sunak yesterday maintained his place at the front of the Tory leadership race, securing 101 votes – but gained just an extra 13 votes compared with the first round. His rival Penny Mordaunt gained the most votes, putting on 16 from Wednesday’s total.
Mr Sunak also insisted he would ‘like to stay’ in the UK if he fails in his bid to become Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak, who previously held a US Green Card including for some time while he was chancellor, said: ‘I was living and working and studying in America at the time but after that I returned to the United Kingdom and decided to try and serve my country as an MP and then in government and now, hopefully, if I’m fortunate enough, as Prime Minister.
‘That’s because I believe I’m the best person to lead us through the challenges we face, do that in an honest and responsible way.
‘But also I know I’ve got the energy, the experience and the vision to grow our economy, grasp the opportunities I see ahead of us.’ He defended his wealth and background, saying they did not bar him from understanding the plight of hard-pressed households.
‘I don’t judge people by their bank accounts, I judge them by their character and I think people can judge me by my actions over the past couple of years.
‘Whenever I have needed to step in to support people I have, and furlough is a fantastic example of that.’
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