Tory leadership contest lurches further to the right with elimination of Tom Tugendhat

‘The latest vote says a lot about Tory MPs.’

Tom Tugendhat

Tugendhat, considered the ‘moderate’ candidate in leadership race, has been knocked out of the contest, and the field narrowed to the final four.

The MP for Tonbridge and Malling received 31 votes from MPs in the third round of voting, behind Kemi Badenoch on 58, Liz Truss on 71, Penny Mordaunt on 82, and Rishi Sunak on 115.

Tugendhat earned some respect for being the only candidate to acknowledge that Boris Johnson is a liar. During the live debate on Channel 4 on Friday evening, the candidates squirmed when asked whether Boris Johnson is an ‘honest man’. Tugendhat received applause by being the only contender to give a straight answer by simply replying ‘no.’

Tugendhat was the first candidate to rule out leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, and was followed shortly by Penny Mordaunt. He was also the only candidate urging to raise benefit levels by cutting the taper rate in Universal Credit.

‘The latest vote says a lot about Tory MPs’

Commentators have been sharing concern about the elimination of the candidate widely regarded as the most moderate of those vying for the top job.

Chris Rennard, Liberal Democrat peer and former party chief executive, said:

“Most people appreciated the fact that Tom Tugendhat was the only candidate who publicly admitted what everyone knows: Boris Johnson is a liar. He was also the candidate most likely to deal with Russian influence over the Conservatives. The latest vote says a lot about Tory MPs.”

Media personality Simon Bye tweeted: “The fact that Tom Tugendhat is the most popular with the public but the least popular with the Conservative Party probably sums up the problems the party has.”

Another Twitter user wrote: “Throughout the Tory leadership contest, Tom Tugendhat has consistently come across as the least damaged, the least out of touch, the least robotic, the least sociopathic, the least extreme, the least unhinged, and he’s told us the fewest lies – so obviously he’s got no chance.”

Truss commits to defence spending

Following Tugendhat’s ejection from the race, Liz Truss has made a defence spending commitment, as she seeks to win his votes.

Tugendhat put his military past at the centre of his leadership campaign. In an attempt to edge out rivals Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt, the foreign secretary is reiterating a campaign pledge to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade.

The next round of voting will take place today, with Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt appearing to be leading the race to seize the Tory crown.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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