Raab and Shapps back Rishi Sunak in race for Tory leadership
Rees Mogg and Dorries are backing Liz Truss
Looks like North East Somerset is the only place where 20 people can be found to back the “Boris Continuity” candidate JRM.
None of the above – Owl
Heather Stewart www.theguardian.com
The UK deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, and the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, have both thrown their weight behind the frontrunner, Rishi Sunak, in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative leader.
Raab, who had not previously backed a candidate, introduced Sunak as he formally launched his candidacy at an event in Westminster.
With the other candidates in a bidding war to promise tax cuts, Raab told the enthusiastic audience: “Just remember this: while others talk the talk, Rishi this month delivered the biggest tax cut for working people in a decade; and he did it because he’s a true Conservative, imbued with the values of enterprise, hard work and family. Rishi’s values are our values.”
He also highlighted Sunak’s early support for Brexit, his “seminal” pamphlet on freeports, and his strong poll ratings relative to other candidates.
Also appearing on stage was Shapps, who has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race and thrown his weight behind Sunak, after it became clear he was unlikely to secure the backing of the 20 MPs needed to progress to the ballot paper.
Key supporters including Oliver Dowden, who resigned as party chair after the disastrous Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield byelections, and the former chief whip Mark Harper, were also present.
Sunak has sought to distinguish himself from the rest of the field by declining to promise lavish tax cuts immediately, instead stressing the importance of not believing in “fairytales”.
In his own speech, he said it was time for a “grown-up conversation” with the public about the challenges ahead. He said he wanted the campaign to be “a moment where the party and the country came together”.
Sunak also sought to explain why he had backed Johnson until last week, saying: “We owe it to the people who elected Boris in 2019 to explain why he is leaving office.
“Boris Johnson is one of the remarkable people I’ve ever met, and whatever the commentators say, he has a good heart,” he said, insisting he would not take part in a “rewriting of history” about his premiership.
He has secured the most public endorsements from MPs, who will narrow the field down rapidly to two candidates over the next 10 days. Sunak, who resigned last week, said he was bringing “a message of change”.