Candidate who flirted with abandoning net zero knocked out of Tory contest

London: The candidate who flirted with delaying Britain’s net zero emissions target has been knocked out of the race for Conservative Party leader.

Kemi Badenoch, who spent her formative years in Nigeria and campaigned on an anti-woke, hard-right campaign lost a vote in the penultimate round of the MPs ballot and was eliminated from the battle after securing just 59 votes. UK’s former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss remain in the race.

From left, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Rishi Sunak.Credit:Getty

Badenoch had described the net zero target as “unilateral economic disarmament” but was reported to have retreated on her stance after being questioned in hustings by COP26 president Alok Sharma.

Badenoch’s 59 votes will make or break who will remain in the race to face Rishi Sunak who is backed by much of the party’s moderate wing.

Sunak’s advance continued but fell two votes short of the 120 required to automatically qualify for the final two, raising suspicions his campaign may have lent votes to Truss. The Herald and The Age know of at least one MP who voted tactically.

Truss enjoyed a late surge in votes, gaining 15 more than what she secured in Monday’s ballot.

Her rival Mordaunt remains in front but her campaign gained just 10 votes suggesting momentum may be with Truss.

The battle is shaping up to be a contest between Sunak, who voted “leave” during the Brexit referendum but is supported by the “remain” wing of the party, and Truss who campaigned for “remain” but is supported by the Brexiteer right.

Either way, Britain will soon have either its third female prime minister or first prime minister from an ethnic background.

The trio of remaining candidates have all backed net zero which was legislated under former prime minister Theresa May.

Conservative leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch during Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate.Credit:Getty

Boris Johnson posed for the cameras as he filmed a final shot with this cabinet, many of whom were hastily drawn in two weeks ago after a cabinet walkout, triggered by former health secretary Sajid Javid.

But despite the smiles, he continued his retribution, stripping the whip of his chief critic Tobais Ellwood and accusing him of missing a key confidence vote in the Commons on Monday which the government won easily.

Ellwood, the chair of the Defence select committee, was in Moldova and Odessa, Ukraine, and consistently agitated for Johnson to be removed as prime minister.

James Johnson who ran polling at Number 10 and co-founder of J.L. Partners said the new leader could win the Conservatives their first-ever fifth term.

Liz Truss, UK foreign secretary, center, attends the final scheduled cabinet meeting held by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.Credit:Bloomberg

“I’ve spent the last seven months saying Boris is toxic and unelectable,” he told British conservative think tank Policy Exchange.

“It was always the Boris problem that voters had, not the conservative problem and I’m actually quite upbeat about the Conservatives at the next election.

“Without Boris and with a plan … there is a path to that victory but it is a narrow one and they’re going to have to get everything right very, very early on.

“It’s a tall order but it’s possible,” he said.

He said voters wanted their new prime minister to be truthful, to be competent, to deliver and be upfront about what can be achieved.

He said the least important concerns to voters were tax cuts for business, the UK’s presence on the world stage, a leader’s background, and whether they voted “leave” or “remain” in the European Union membership referendum.

The most important issues were turning the economy around, clearing the National Health Service backlog and restoring integrity in politics.

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