UK Conservative leadership contest: final MP rounds

Which candidates will make the final two that go to Conservative members? Updates on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

11:55am Friday: A YouGov poll of 730 Conservative members, conducted after the final two were known, gave Truss a massive 62-38 lead over Sunak. Including undecided and won’t vote, it was Truss 49%, Sunak 31%, undecided 15% and won’t vote 6%. 40% said Sunak can’t be trusted to tell the truth, only 18% thought the same of Truss.

The Italian government has collapsed, and elections will be held on September 25 about six months before they were due. Far-right parties are likely to win these elections.

7:33am Thursday: In the final round of MPs’ votes, Sunak won 137 votes (39% of the total), Truss 113 votes (32%) and Mordaunt was eliminated with 105 votes (30%). Changes from round four were Truss up 27, Sunak up 19 and Mordaunt up 13. So it’s Sunak vs Truss in the membership vote. This will be conducted by mail with the result announced September 5. Truss had a 54-35 lead over Sunak in a YouGov Conservative members poll.

8:12pm Results of the final round of MPs votes will be announced at 4pm UK time (1am AEST). I will report them here tomorrow morning.

12:16am Wednesday In the fourth round vote, Sunak had 118 votes (33% of the total), Mordaunt 92 (26%), Truss 86 (24%) and Badenoch was eliminated with 59 (17%). Changes were Truss up 15, Mordaunt up 10, Sunak up three and Badenoch up one.

Truss now trails Mordaunt by just six votes, with 59 votes to come from the right-wing Badenoch. Truss is very likely now to make the final two. A new YouGov poll has Truss thrashing Sunak 54-35 head to head among Tory members, and he also loses to Mordaunt 51-37.

The candidate who courted her party’s right is likely to be the next PM of the UK.

7:15pm Results of today’s vote will be announced at 3pm UK time (midnight AEST).

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

At Monday’s third round vote by Conservative MPs, Rishi Sunak won 115 votes (32% of the total), followed by Penny Mordaunt with 82 votes (23%), Liz Truss 71 votes (20%), Kemi Badenoch 58 votes (16%) and Tom Tugendhat 31 votes (9%). As the last placed candidate, Tugendhat was eliminated. The changes in votes since Thursday’s second round were Sunak up 14, Badenoch up nine, Truss up seven, Mordaunt and Tugendhat both down one.

Conservative MPs will eliminate another candidate tonight (likely Badenoch), then the final elimination vote will occur Wednesday. The final two go to the Conservative membership, which votes by mail. The result will be announced September 5. Brief profiles of the remaining candidates appear below.

Sunak was the former chancellor. Boris Johnson was forced to resign soon after Sunak quit. As I said in my previous article, Sunak is the only candidate advocating fiscal rectitude, while other candidates want tax cuts NOW!

Mordaunt is a junior minister. Her appeal is to those who want a complete break from Johnson by replacing him with someone virtually unknown, and her attractiveness probably helped.

Truss is the foreign secretary. During this leadership campaign, she has heavily courted her party’s most right-wing MPs. As well as personal tax cuts, she has promised to reverse a scheduled rise in the corporations tax from 18% to 25% and to cut green levies.

Badenoch was a junior minister. She has campaigned against the “woke” agenda, and is the only remaining contender who has not signed up to the UK’s net zero by 2050 goal.

Further analysis

Sunak is only five short of the 120 votes (just over one-third of MPs) needed to guarantee a membership vote spot, but Mordaunt is likely to lose after Badenoch is eliminated. She could be saved if voters of the centrist Tugendhat break strongly to her over Sunak, or if some Sunak voters tactically vote for Mordaunt over Truss in the final round; he’s likely to be able to spare some votes.

A YouGov poll of Conservative members last week had Mordaunt crushing everyone else head to head, but this already looks out of date. A Conservative Home survey out Sunday (not sure if this is a real poll) had large falls for Mordaunt since the previous week, and she now loses to Badenoch, Truss and Sunak, with Truss leading Sunak 49-42.

Mordaunt has been damaged by claims she is too woke, and her performances at debates Friday and Sunday haven’t helped. The woke accusations are likely to particularly hurt with Badenoch voters.

Last week I said national polls taken since Johnson was ousted showed a swing to Labour, giving Labour a double digit lead over the Conservatives. There has been little change in the polls since then. Although Johnson was ousted by Conservative MPs, the government won a parliamentary confidence vote Monday by 349 to 238, with all Conservatives voting for confidence.

Australian election coverage at The Conversation

I wrote about the final 2022 election results; all seat changes occurred in the cities, and inner metro regions had the largest difference in Labor’s favour from national results since at least 1993. I covered the final Senate results and critically compared the pre-election polls to the election results – that article was published before an exact national two party vote was known.

44 comments on “UK Conservative leadership contest: final MP rounds”

  1. There is very little appealing about the candidates. Sunak is the most moderate but he seems to be out of touch, being an extremely wealth toff. Truss is the dopey one and I would expect if elected leader she would be so out of her depth that world leaders would run rings around her. Badenoch is running to merely up her profile and advocate for positions that largely outside the mainstream. Mordaunt is a bit two faced with lots of positions she has held and then abandoned.

    If BoJo had been able to run against this crew he might have won again.

  2. From Guardian
    UK records hottest night ever
    The UK recorded its provisionally warmest night ever from Monday into Tuesday.

    The mercury never got below 25C in places, the Met Office said this morning. That beats the previous night-time high of 23.9C in Brighton in August 1990.

  3. Adrian re tactical voting and the Irish perspective

    This is the most interesting aspect of the Tory drama show. While the Tory press contributed to the failure of the UK electorate in 2011 to prefer a superior, preferential, Aussie-style voting system, now Tory MPs are using a slow motion version of preferential voting to choose the final two.

    Sunak is in the box seat but his campaign and supporters may not understand tactical voting enough to do it in an organised way. It’s much easier to do it with several hundred MPs as the electorate than with an electorate the size of the ACT. See this comment in a recent Guardian article:

    The journalist, Katy Balls, says Mordaunt’s loss of momentum “is why there are some supporters of Sunak who would rather now face Mordaunt in the final two than either Liz Truss or Kemi Badenoch. Both fare better with the membership and are predicted to beat Sunak in a runoff.”

    Given the numbers, a coordinated exercise of tactical voting by a section of the Sunak camp can most probably determined his final competitor. E.g. enough Sunak supporters vote for Badenoch to ensure Truss goes out next, then enough vote for Mordaunt to beat Badenoch for the second spot.

    Surely the French could organise this outcome if the chief neo-liberal candidate desired it. But with the Tories one can’t be so sure – competence is rarely apparent amongst them.

    And the Irish view, if asked, “how do the Tories recover from this drama show?”, the answer must be: “don’t start from here”.

    Finally, the real meaning of “Brexit” has been revealed. It stands for Boris Resists Exit. In fact, Britain as such never chose “Brexit”; it was only England and Wales.

  4. I am not sure that Truss will be able to beat Sunak in the final membership vote. He will make mince meat out of her during any further debates.

    She is clearly the favourite of the BoJo loyalists.

  5. ‘Badenoch out of Tory leadership contest, as Truss gets closer to Mordaunt, with Sunak still leading .. Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, reads out the result. He starts: “Nearly there.” The last ballot is tomorrow’ – (The Grauniad)

    Rishi Sunak – 118 (up 3)

    Penny Mordaunt – 92 (up 10)

    Liz Truss – 86 (up 15)

    Kemi Badenoch – 59 (up 1)

  6. B.S. Fairman at 10.06 pm

    Truss still needs a majority of the Badenoch voters to be sure of getting to the last two.

    Very hard to see Sunak missing out on last two. Agree Sunak should be able to trounce Truss in longer campaign, because he could present himself absurdly as the candidate for change.

    Sunak group probably do not fear Truss campaign. Otherwise they could still boost numbers for Mordaunt to beat Truss, but that assumes they can count and organise tactical voting.

  7. Adrian at 12.18 pm

    For Truss it looks like only a real dopey Tory could miss out from here, but she still might manage it. Much may depend on the person who could have, but didn’t, save Britain from “Boris”, Michael Gove.

    An article in the Independent says that Badenoch backer Michael Gove, the toff from Aberdeen, is looming as the kingmaker, having previously been compared to a snake (unfair to snakes, of course):

    Rumours that Sunak might learn how to do tactical voting have been scotched, supposedly: ‘A senior Sunak supporter dismissed rumours that the former chancellor was planning to “lend” supporters to Ms Mordaunt to keep Ms Truss out of the final ballot, as the candidate he most fears.’

    Apparently Sunak’s problem is not ignorance of tactical voting but his own limited appeal: ‘One MP told The Independent: “Everyone is talking about Rishi lending votes, but I’m not sure he has enough in the bag to do that without risking his own position. And it’s not at all clear whether his chances are better against Penny or against Liz.”’

    For background on Gove, whom David Cameron once made the mistake of trusting, and Johnson, see:

  8. Rakali at 12.15 pm

    Yes, Mordaunt told the Tories she is best to save the Union. By tonight they probably could not care less. Probably just incompetence, but a cynic might think they will ditch Scotland to stay in power.

    See this comment and particularly the link from previous thread. Don’t presume the youth will vote Yes. In 2014 those under 25 did not (details at link below). It may be a question of political ignorance rather than inclination. For comparison, I recall three young men on a train on the Hornsby line in Sydney in early 1995 saying they would be voting for Howard because he’d “never lost an election”.

    There was a significant gender gap in the 2014 vote, with around 57% of women voting No. Those under 25 were also around 54% No. If there was change in those groups, No might not hold on. See:

  9. Looking pretty good for Truss now. She will likely move in to the top two, then have a comfortable win with the Conservative Party membership. This is likely to ensure a hard line will be taken with the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol. The Sturgeon stunt will also be ignored, if it even happens, although I think this is likely whichever candidate wins. As I said in the previous thread, if Sturgeon does go ahead with the October 2023 stunt, it will likely be boycotted by Scottish unionists, depriving it of any shred of legitimacy. I do think however that there will be a genuine Scottish independence referendum some time over the next few years, but at this stage I would say that the chances of an independence win are still less than 50-50.

  10. Matt13

    “The Sturgeon stunt will also be ignored, if it even happens, although I think this is likely whichever candidate wins.”
    Of course all the nominees for leadership of the Tories assume they can arbitrarily “refuse” a vote of the Scots in Scotland about their constitutional state.

    Any semblance of discussion, negotiation much less the exercising of a democratic vote are totally foreign to their autocratic Little Britain brains.

    If a referendum is not “allowed” the Government has stated it will hold a general election on the basis of independence. Just such an exercise was acknowledged by Margaret Thatcher as an appropriate determinant of independence.

    Everyone, in a non-compulsory election, has the right not to vote. If unionists or anyone else chooses not to vote they merely indicate they are indifferent to the outcome.

  11. Dr Doolittle

    In the 2014 Independence Referendum a majority of voters born in Scotland voted YES. So one could say that the Scots actually voted for independence in 2014.

    A majority of People born in other parts of the UK (largely England) and voters born in the outside the UK (largely EU) voted NO.

    Scots Born: yes 52.7%. no 47.3%
    Born in the Rest the UK: no 72.1%. yes 27.9%
    Born Outside the UK: no 57.1%. yes 42.9%

  12. Rakali at 5.55 pm

    Long-term processes are at work. Consider this 2007 comment by Professor Archie Brown, a leading authority on Gorbachev and a Scots-born opponent of independence (I presume until now, though it is possible he may have changed his mind in response to Tory antics in recent years):

    “What used to be known as the Conservative and Unionist party is in danger of becoming the Break-up of Britain party.” (date of article, 3 August 2007)

    Back on the Tory drama show, it would appear the Sunak camp have been doing tactical voting, but to assist Truss, not Mordaunt. At least that is one Yorkshireman’s claim.

    ‘Former Brexit Secretary David Davis – a leading supporter of Ms Mordaunt – is accusing Mr Sunak’s operation of “dirty tricks.” He has claimed on LBC radio there have “clearly been some transfers of votes” from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss.’ See:

    Sunak, born in Southampton, might be playing his hand in making Liz leader, and the Union history.

    In Association Football this is called an own goal. Historically, it might be a very spectacular one.

  13. Christopher Hope

    Liz Truss looks set to have won the Conservative leadership campaign.

    One MP on the Sunak team tells me the votes from Kemi Badenoch have “transferred wholesale” to Truss’s campaign.
    If so, suddenly Rishi Sunak is no longer the favourite going into the members’ voting

  14. Tom Newton Dunn

    Deep despondency in Camp Mordaunt now, plus anger and recriminations too. One prominent Penny MP: “I fear Liz has pushed us out. The nasty personal attacks in the Mail & Telegraph cut through. Looks like a Rishi v Liz summer contest. Only winner from that will be our opponents”.
    3:46 PM · Jul 20, 2022
    James Forsyth (of ‘The Spectator’)
    As we wait for the result, the bad blood in the Tory party is increasing. There is a feeling among many Penny Mordaunt supporters that Liz Truss’s campaign have had a hand in the attacks on her

  15. Mordaunt eliminated so Sunak and Truss go forward to the party members ballot.

    Sunak – 137 (up from 118)
    Truss – 113 (up from 86)
    Mordaunt – 105 (up from 92)

  16. In the end, Sunak could have pushed Truss out if he had been inclined to use tactical voting.

    Anyway Truss will probably win, then babble incompetently to the 2024 election. She appears to be as wooden as Theresa May, but thicker.

  17. Simon at 1.40 am

    See the allegation from David Davies at 8.21 pm re Sunak camp supporting Truss.

    As they say in the classics, “you know it makes sense”. Sunak did not want to face the newbie outsider challenge from the woman from Torquay c 1973 (a few years after the rude episode that inspired Fawlty Towers).

    Truss could become the wooden spoon of Tory leaders if, as Rakali expects, her complete political incompetence helps ensure the “break up of Britain” (title of book by Tom Nairn 40 yrs ago).

  18. ChrisCsays:
    Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 1:17 am
    Mordaunt eliminated so Sunak and Truss go forward to the party members ballot.

    Sunak – 137 (up from 118)
    Truss – 113 (up from 86)
    Mordaunt – 105 (up from 92)

    The Tory party members, who are to the right of Tory MPs and are mostly like Kemi Badenoch, have to choose between 2 ‘woke’ candidates.
    They are ‘woke’ from the point of view of Tory party members because one is a ‘ethnic’ person and another is Woman. I think for the Tory members a candidate is not ‘woke’when the candidate is Anglo-Saxon man between the age of 50-70 years.
    I know they voted for Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May as leadership candidates.
    MT was a transformative leader and TM was a caricature of MT.
    There is a saying
    “Marx wrote that ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
    If TM was a tragedy then Lizz Truss (LT) is farce.

  19. Ray (UK) at 1.05 am

    Mordaunt supporters angry not only with Truss lot but also with Sunak lot for tactical voting to boost Truss in to second place.

    See comment by Patrick Flynn to Andrew Marr as reported on Guardian blog 4.09 AEST.

    Ignoring such tactical voting to boost Truss, the final gap between Truss winning and a tie was 4 votes. If there was such voting and it is revealed, then, assuming Truss beats Sunak, the wooden spoon woman will struggle with legitimacy in public perceptions no doubt.

  20. British Electoral Politics

    Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have agreed to take part in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday 4th August

  21. Adrian Beaumontsays:
    Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 2:32 pm
    Ven, technically Theresa May wasn’t elected by Tory members as her final round opponent Andrea Leadsom withdrew without a membership vote.

    Thanks AB for the info.

  22. Picked up from elsewhere.

    >Just in case anyone is worried that the Conservatives have gone woke, one read PPE at Merton College Oxford, and the other read PPE at Lincoln College Oxford.

  23. From what I gather from AB and ChrisC, the Tory members Never voted for a woman till now in a ballot.
    This is the first time.

  24. Jan 6 at 3.34

    Truss wont break Britain. Johnston will return in time to save the UK and return it to glory. Viva la Bojo.

    I tried to google one of those Tim Brooke-Taylor speeches, backed by Land of Hope and Glory. No clips immediately available, so we’ll just have to remember…

  25. The trouble with the Conservative leadership vote is basically that Boris is still the guy who won a majority in the confidence vote and would win in a landslide in a vote purely of Tory party MEMBERS which… happens to be who chooses the leader.

    That inevitably meant that there was a strong vote on hand for whoever stood up to be the More Boris candidate which turned out to be Truss, and there will likewise be a very strong vote for her among the members.

    This is electorally stupid but an almost inevitable result of their system.

    It’s not like our system is that much better (Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, anyone?) but does seem rather weird to have a PM forced to resign only to put the candidate in who identified most strongly with doing more of what the resigned PM was doing.

  26. Arky at 9.08 pm

    It’s actually worse than that, by some way. Both Sunak and Truss voted Remain in 2016. Polls show the electorate in England and Wales has finally realised they were duped. The so-called “Brexit” was merely a means for the self-promotion of “Boris”, albeit with huge ramifications for the UK, with the biggest yet to come, i.e. new Scottish challenge to the Union.

    In this situation will Truss or Sunak have the guts, after they become PM, to “level up” with the electorate in England and Wales about the predictable fiasco of “Brexit”, before it gets worse? No chance whatsoever.

    If Mordaunt had won she would have continued the “Brexit” lies but without the hypocrisy and utter gutlessness of the next British PM. Neither Sunak nor Truss are a leader’s bootlace.

    At least Rakali and supporters of Scottish sovereignty now have great expectations again.

  27. Lets be honest. This is the party that took out it’s wallet and threw it in the river singing Royal Britannia. Truss it is with dreams of Thatcher.

  28. Latest YouGov poll on the voting intentions of Conservative Party members has Liz Truss with a 62-38 lead. Don’t know and no intention of voting have been excluded. This looks all over.

    On the issue of the Northern Ireland protocol, a bill unwinding its impact to a very significant extent has now passed the Commons. There is some suggestion that the Lords may try to block it. Sunak has stated that if he is elected leader, he will use the Parliament Act to get around this. This means that after a year, the legislation can be passed without the approval of the Lords. I am near certain that Truss will be on board with this also, meaning that the Lords would only be delaying the inevitable, and that all they will achieve is ensuring no power sharing in Northern Ireland for another year, as the DUP will certainly not take their seats while the protocol remains.

  29. British and Italian political parties have become laughing stock of the world in European context.
    The political parties of those countries are absolute rabble.

    Like Italy, Germany had coalition governments for long time but they settle their differences behind closed doors.

    Italian PM Dragi resigned because 3 of his Ministers did not attend confidence vote in their parliament.
    So many PMs of Italy in recent times, I stopped counting.

  30. @Dr Doolittle

    “Both Sunak and Truss voted Remain in 2016.”

    No they didn’t. Sunak voted Leave. Truss has been consistent now for a while that she made a mistake supporting Remain.

    “Polls show the electorate in England and Wales has finally realised they were duped.”

    Nonsense. Yes, there was finally one poll the other day, in the midst of the current political chaos, showing 53-47 in favour of rejoin!

    “The so-called “Brexit” was merely a means for the self-promotion of “Boris””.

    Wrong again I’m afraid. It was way, way bigger than Boris and brewing for years. That said, if you had not included the word ‘merely’ in your sentence it would have been a true sentence.

    “n this situation will Truss or Sunak have the guts, after they become PM, to “level up” with the electorate in England and Wales about the predictable fiasco of “Brexit”, before it gets worse?”

    No need. If that’s what they believe, then of course it will be a fiasco. But there’s plenty of opportunities for success and growth – just sometimes different ones to pre-Brexit. Brexit is a hyped-up non-event really.

    “If Mordaunt had won she would have continued the “Brexit” lies but without the hypocrisy and utter gutlessness of the next British PM.”

    No idea what this meaningless garble is supposed to say.

  31. “Neither Sunak nor Truss are a leader’s bootlace.”

    It’s true that the choice is uninspiring.

    However, Liz Truss would be many times better than Sunak. Sunak is a fraud.

    He also has worrying connections eg his father-in-law a very rich and influential man in India – just look at their ‘neutral-favourable’ stance towards Russia.

    Truss for all her limitations, has been loyal which speaks well for her. As do her very strong stance and leadership on the Ukraine matter as our Foreign Secretary.

    She’s not even close to as slick as Rishi, but I happen to think she’s right on tax cuts now not necessarily needing to be ones that make inflation worse.

  32. Arky / Ven

    You are right that the Conservative party has just been an embarrassment recently.

    Partly naked political ambition, partly losing their nerve at all the vitriol in the media over essentially trivial matters (as I am sure history will show them to be).

    Sadly they have therefore been doing the opposition party’s work for them.

    Forcing Boris out was the most ludicrous act of self-harm the Conservative party could do. The disunity and fighting is the biggest driver of negative sentiment – had they rallied behind Boris consistently against the massively hyped up narratives being pushed, the polls would be showing something very different today.

    They are now favourites to lose the next election – no-one likes divided parties, and they have got rid of their proven vote-winner who was anything but the busted flush some wanted him to seem to be, especially in the ‘Red Wall’ seats.

    (Shakes head in disbelief sadly)

  33. BTSays at 6.44 pm

    I presume you agree with this assessment by that nasty little man, and a law-breaker to boot, named Dominic Cummings, when he concludes:

    “Boris is supporting Truss. Why? 1) He thinks it’s the best way to stop Sunak. 2) He knows Truss is mad as a box of snakes and is thinking, ‘there’s a chance she blows, there’s another contest and I can return’.” (Of course, Cummings knows that Boris is delusion encapsulated.)

    Cummings would disagree with you about Truss being loyal. He claims, probably inaccurately about him and third parties but likely true about Truss: “Truss is the only minister I shouted at in No 10. The reason was her compulsive pathological leaking”. Hardly a sign of loyalty. Sounds like Mark Latham.

  34. A question re the Tory ‘membership’ election: is it like our federal ALP, in which the ‘members’ get a 50% say and the MPs 50%? (Or some other system?)

  35. Dr Doolittle,
    the tory system makes perfect sense when you think about conservatives wanting to conserve their point of view. They only think borris needed to resign because he kept getting caught. Electing someone who’s just like borris but without baggage seems like a very conservative thing to do.
    They only learn in defeat.

    In our own example. Expect either the lnp to implode or for their to be a moderate revival. OR years and years out in the wilderness being uber right wing whilst Australia moves on.

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