Transport secretary Grant Shapps and deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab have backed Rishi Sunak to be the next Tory party leader, with the former chancellor today vowing “a return to traditional conservative economic values” if he becomes Prime Minister.
Shapps’ endorsement comes after he decided to call off his faltering campaign and throw his lot behind Sunak this morning.
The ex-Chancellor is now widely expected to be one of two final leadership candidates when voting switches from just MPs to the wider Tory party membership.
Speaking at his official campaign launch today, Sunak said: “My message to the party and the country is simple. I have a plan to steer our economy through these headwinds.
“We need a return to traditional conservative economic values. And that means honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales. It is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes.”
His comments come after Tory candidates have lined up over the past few days to announce wide ranging tax cuts in a bid to endear themselves to the party faithful.
The endorsements from Raab and Shapps come after Boris Johnson ultra-loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries today publicly backed foreign secretary Liz Truss to be the next leader.
Rees-Mogg said that he was “always opposed to Rishi’s higher taxes”, and that Truss “is the best candidate — that’s what we’re looking for”.
Truss is trying to win the support of the right of the party to take on Sunak in the final vote, however her team last night warned that that there was a danger that the right-wing vote could be split by having too many other similar contenders.
Attorney general Suella Braveman and former communities minister Kemi Badenoch are also running from the right, while home secretary Priti Patel has been weighing up a bid.
Nominations to officially run in the leadership race will close today, with candidates requiring 20 endorsements from Tory MPs to pass into tomorrow’s vote.
All candidates who do not receive 30 votes from MPs in tomorrow’s vote will be eliminated, with the remaining contenders to face a series of votes over the next week to whittle down the pack to a final two contenders.
A new Tory leader and Prime Minister will be announced on 5 September, after the party’s 200,000 members have their say.
Sunak has the most MP endorsements, followed by trade minister Penny Mordaunt, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat,Truss and former communities minister Kemi Badenoch.
A Conservative Home poll on who Tory members most want to see as PM saw Mordaunt, Badenoch and Sunak come lead the pack.
They were followed by Braveman, Truss and Tugendhat.
Badenoch and Tugendhat had their campaign launches in Westminster this morning, with both assuring people they could win the race as underdogs.
In a policy heavy speech, Tugendhat promised a 10p cut to fuel duty, to reverse the recent 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance and massive tax write-offs for businesses to spur private sector investment.
“I believe that a clean start that returns us to the service of the people will produce a brighter future. Our economy should be advancing, not retreating,” he said.
“Yet millions of people are opening bills with dread – not knowing what they’ll have to cut, to pay for what they need.”
In a thinly veiled stab at Boris Johnson, Badenoch said “it’s time to tell the truth”.
“For too long politicians have been saying you can have it all – you can have your cake and eat it,” she said.
“But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Governing involves trade-offs and you need to be honest about that.”