Truss may be winning among Party members, but Sunak continues to lead among MPs | Conservative Home

Cast your minds back through the eons to a week or two ago, and you may remember that ConservativeHome was compiling a list of which MPs were publicly backing which leadership candidates. Today, that has been updated to show if the former backers of Mordaunt, Badenoch, and others have declared for either of the final two. The results raise a few interesting points.

  • Despite Liz Truss apparently currently leading amongst the party membership, Rishi Sunak continues to clearly lead amongst MPs. Both candidates have put on backers since the last time the list was updated. But Sunak remains more than 30 MPs ahead of Truss and has almost reached 100 public supporters.
  • One reason for that, of course, is that Sunak lead on every ballot of Tory MPs, whereas Truss only entered the top two in the final round. The final ballot had 137 votes for Sunak, 113 for Truss – and 105 for Mordaunt. So it is in scooping up the Portsmouth North MP’s former supporters that both candidates have the most options.
  • Nevertheless, whilst both candidates have been successful in putting on support since the last round, Truss is marginally ahead – by 24 votes gained to 21 votes for Sunak. The caveat to this is again that she was starting from a lower base, and that as the candidate of a right that had previously been divided, some of her supporters only backed her having tried several other candidates first.
  • Both candidates will want to increase their support base amongst MPs. Sunak only garnered the support of 38.3 percent of the parliamentary party in the final round – but that is still significantly ahead of Truss’s 31.6 percent. By contrast, Johnson had the backing of 51.1 percent of MPs in the final ballot in 2019.
  • Truss may enjoy the backing of Iain Duncan Smith, but she won’t want her leadership to end up like his: second choice amongst MPs, first choice amongst members, and hampered by MP antipathy from the start. Then again, having the backing of more than half the parliamentary party didn’t stop Johnson from being defenestrated three years later.
  • Anyway, back to the list. Most of Mordaunt’s supporters have failed to back another candidate. Clearly, if little convinced them about the frontrunners just over a week ago, there has been little movement in the intervening few days. It’s telling that some MPs have chosen to put out surveys to their constituents, rather than back a new candidate.
  • After all, their votes now matter as much as any other party member. Democracy is a tremendous leveller. But that hasn’t stopped other candidates supporters from moving behind new candidates. Of Tugendhat’s former 22 backers, 8 have plumped for Sunak, and 4 for Truss. The numbers for Badenoch are one for Sunak, 5 for Truss – but out of 29 declared supporters.
  • Where does this leave things? The focus for the next month will obviously be on the party membership, as the final two traipse up and down the land to hust, press the flesh, and try to convince undecided voters to plump their way. Which MP is backing which candidate is of less interest than it was when they were whittling down to the final pair.
  • Yet, whomever wins this contest, our next Prime Minister will have to form a new government. If Sunak or Truss goes into Number 10 without even half of MPs willing to publicly back them – or even a third, in Truss’s case – then their government will be undermined from the start. We will have replaced one Prime Minister little-liked by MPs with another.
  • Is parliamentary quietude therefore a sign of remorse on the part of MPs who have realised that junking Johnson and electing his successor is not as easy as they had hoped? I don’t think so. Some MPs will be waiting to see how the members leap. Some will hope for favour from either winner. Some will simply have not made up their minds. In that, they are just like any other party member waiting for their ballot to arrive.

Source link