Sunak is facing 'exodus' of backers to Tory leadership rival Truss

Rishi Sunak is facing exodus of backers to his Tory leadership rival Liz Truss, her campaign team says

  • Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak is said to be losing support among MPs
  •  An ‘exodus’ of Sunak’s supporters could defect to Liz Truss, her campaign said
  • Former minister Chris Skidmore yesterday became the first MP to switch camps 

An ‘exodus’ of Rishi Sunak-backing MPs could join former minister Chris Skidmore and defect to Team Truss, her campaign said yesterday. 

Mr Skidmore, who on Tuesday became the first Tory MP to publicly switch camps, said he had ‘grown increasingly concerned’ with Mr Sunak’s ‘consistently changing’ policies. 

The defection of the former universities minister, who hails from the party’s liberal wing, was seen as a boost for Liz Truss who has primarily attracted support from the Tory Right. Yesterday a campaign spokesman said: ‘We’re in talks with others from camp Rishi and Chris coming over could trigger a bigger exodus of MPs.

‘Rishi’s flip-flopping on the economy is clearly upsetting a lot of his backers. Our supporters like Liz’s optimistic vision for the future, her Conservative plan for the economy based around tax cuts, and her credentials as a leader who will stand up to dictators like Putin and prioritise national defence.

An ‘exodus’ of Rishi Sunak-backing MPs could join former minister Chris Skidmore and defect to Team Truss, her campaign said yesterday

Mr Sunak was comfortably ahead in every parliamentary stage of the leadership contest, and ended up with the backing of 137 MPs compared to Miss Truss’ 113.

But his campaign has stalled in recent weeks as his rival has picked up endorsements from scores of senior Tories, including a renewed call to elect her by 21 current and former Cabinet ministers. During the leadership hustings, both former rival Penny Mordaunt and senior Tory Nusrat Ghani have announced they are supporting her campaign.

In an article backing Mr Sunak last month, Mr Skidmore had said the former Chancellor was ‘the only candidate who is facing up to all the issues – including the environment – that matter to our voters.’

But yesterday he explained: ‘Initially, I had backed Rishi Sunak during the MPs’ stage of the contest. Yet over the past few weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned by his campaign’s consistently changing position, especially on the economy, to chase votes. I am convinced that we need a bolder, more positive approach to the UK’s future.

‘Above all, we need a leader who will unite the party. Liz Truss has demonstrated that she has the leadership and personal ability to bring us all together. We cannot afford to be seen as a divided party and for me, I now believe that Liz is the best person to unite us and the country under her leadership in meeting the challenges we face head-on.’

On Tuesday night, along with nine other Tories who had not yet declared their support for any camp, came out for Miss Truss.

They said: ‘Liz has the bold and confident vision that we require. She understands that with tax cuts, better regulation and supply side reform we can provide a boost to our hard working constituents and excellent businesses to get our economy growing again.

‘Her plan for tax cuts to National Insurance and corporation tax, among others, will deliver this.’

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