The fast pace of this Tory leadership contest means that MPs are voting again in just a couple of hours. Today is the most unpredictable day of this contest so far. There are all sorts of cross-currents swirling around Westminster: some Tugendhat supporters’ primary objective is to block Truss now their candidate is out of the contest. But there are also those who aren’t fans of Penny Mordaunt – like Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who ran on Tugendhat’s ticket as his deputy, who yesterday said Mordaunt ‘left other ministers to pick up the pieces’ to plan her leadership bid. How this all balances out is hard to judge.
At the same time, Kemi Badenoch is still in the race and trying to become the candidate of the right. Her backers are arguing the fact that she put on nine votes yesterday – two more than Truss – and the ConHome survey numbers suggest she is the contender with the most room to grow. To overhaul Truss today and stay in the race, she’ll also need to peel off a chunk of the Tugendhat vote. Like him, she hasn’t served in cabinet so that gives her some chance to appeal. But some of the Tugendhat camp is wary of Badenoch’s positions on various issues.
Just to add to the complexity Tobias Ellwood, who was backing Mordaunt, has just been stripped of the whip. This means he won’t be able to vote this afternoon, meaning Mordaunt starts the round with an effective lead of ten votes over Truss.