KEMI Badenoch flew out of the blocks to win support for her leadership bid today with swipes at both her rivals and Boris Johnson.
At a punchy online hustings the wildcard Tory candidate said: “Unlike others, I don’t promise things without a plan to deliver.”
She added that unlike some of her rivals she does not have “the baggage” of serving in the Cabinet under Mr Johnson.
The final five wannabe PMs made their pitch for the top job to grassroots members this afternoon and all pledged lower taxes.
They laid out their stall ahead of tonight’s first live TV debates which could fast become a slanging match as the contest turns increasingly bitter.
The 7pm match-up risks electrifying the brutal blue-on-blue race where rival camps are slinging mud at each other.
Rishi Sunak is expected to cruise into the final two after nearly winning the amount of MPs needed to go through.
Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Ms Badenoch are fighting tooth and claw to be the main challenger with neither side backing down.
At the opening skirmish during the ConHome hustings the candidates agreed they should not engage in friendly fire.
But there was subtle sniping as Ms Badenoch fumed: “I think that when we put things in our manifesto, we need to stick to them.”
She said: “I think having multiple U-turns as a government is incredibly damaging, and means that people don’t know whether we say what we mean.
“And that’s why I keep telling everyone that I am the candidate who tells the truth.”
Ms Truss also drove a dump truck over Mr Sunak’s record as Chancellor to his face by pledging to scrap his National Insurance and Corporation Tax hikes.
In key developments:
- Ms Badenoch apologised to Brits for “all the things we have done wrong in Westminster”
- Mr Sunak said he was the only one who could win another election
- Brexit Tories rowed about which candidate they should back
- Ms Mordaunt said she would win if she got through to the final two
- Allies of Ms Mordaunt said she was being smeared in a “black ops” campaign
- Ms Badenoch refused to back down depute pressure to
Despite vowing not to “disparage” her fellow candidates, Truss allies last night launched a brutal briefing against Ms Mordaunt.
They have accused her of being “lazy”, ineffective in government and not being straight about her pro-woke views on issues such as trans rights.
Ms Mordaunt – who is now the bookies favourite – this morning said she was refusing to engage in friendly fire on her Tory colleagues.
Hitting back in a Sky News interview she said: “People, obviously, are trying to stop me getting into the final because they don’t want to run against me.”
Ex-Cabinet Minister and Mordaunt supporter David Davis claimed she was being smeared in a “black ops” campaign.
Foreign Secretary Ms Trussis urging Ms Badenoch to fold in behind her campaign so not to split the right-wing vote.
Ms Truss was handed a boost last night when Brexit supremo Lord David Frost and Attorney General Suella Braverman both gave her their backing.
The potential support of the 27 Tory MPs who supported Ms Braverman — who fell out of the race yesterday — could prove crucial in her bid to overhaul Ms Mordaunt, who currently leads her by 19 votes.
But her Brexit backers are rowing amongst themselves on who they should fall in behind now.
Heated texts seen by The Sun show Brexit Tories refusing to follow Mark Francois’ orders to back Ms Truss – and are instead backing Ms Badenoch.
A Truss spokeswoman said: “Now is the time for MPs to unite behind the candidate who will cut taxes, deliver the real economic change we need, continue to deliver the benefits of Brexit and ensure Putin loses in Ukraine.
“Liz Truss has the experience to deliver from day one, grow our economy and support working families and then beat Labour.”
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