Background: A survey of the Tory party membership from the Conservative Home website has shown that Sunak would comfortably win in a run-off against Hunt, but would struggle against many of the other candidates including Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt.
‘It’s a stitch up!’ Nadine Dorries rages at Rishi ‘dark arts’ to secure PM win
Rishi Sunak faces two major opponents in battle to PM
Cally Brooks www.express.co.uk
Writing on Twitter, the Secretary of State for DCMS wrote: “This is dirty tricks/a stitch up/dark arts. Take your pick. Team Rishi want the candidate they know they can definitely beat in the final two and that is @Jeremy_Hunt. It was in response to a Tweet by Commentator Dan Hodges who revealed he was told Gavin Williamson, who is on Rishi Sunak’s team, organised a “syphoning off of some votes” to help Jeremy Hunt get to the election.
He wrote: “One rival camp tells me Gavin Willamson (who is on Team Rishi) has organised syphoning off of some votes to let Jeremy Hunt get over the threshold.”
Nadine Dorries is a member of the Conservative Party and has served as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2021.
It comes as the first eight leadership candidates to get through to the first round of voting have been revealed.
Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhikm Zahawi have made it through.
Sajid Javid and Rehman Christi withdrew from the content minutes before the deadline.
But some have denied the accusations, with Sky News’ Political Editor Beth Rigby claiming sources have told her it is “complete nonsense”.
She wrote on Twitter: “Update on the Williamson/Hunt story doing rounds. Source close to Sunak campaign tells me its ‘complete nonsense.
“Mel Stride running the whipping op & that behaviour isn’t happening. It’s a dirty story being spread by anti-Rishi people’.”
It comes after Rigby challenged Rishi Sunak over his suitability to lead the country as she pointed out he shares several flaws with Boris Johnson.
The Sky News chief editor questioned Rishi Sunak about his record as she noted the former Chancellor had been building his campaign to succeed Boris Johnson on the need for change within the party.
Beth Rigby noted Mr Sunak had also been handed a fine after he was found to have breached lockdown rules by attending a gathering at a time when groups could not meet. She also noted he is currently seen as a “corrosive” figure because of his fiscal policies, questioning his chances of securing the leadership of both the party and the country.
Ms Rigby said: “You’ve just stood here and said Boris Johnson is a remarkable person, you don’t want history to demonise him.
“But the fact is, the party just ousted him on the basis of conduct, probity, and causing division. And here you are, and I have to put it to you that you have a police fine over Partygate.”
Rigby added: “And there have been questions too over your very wealthy family avoiding paying millions of pounds in tax due to your wife being a non-dom taxpayer.
“I know that has changed very recently. And I have to say you’re an utterly corrosive figure in the parliamentary party for a big chunk of it. There are many in the party who do not want you to be Prime Minister.”
The former Chancellor said: “I think it’s important, whoever wins this election does restore trust because trust has been broken. We need to rebuild all that with the country. It’s something I’m keen to do as leader.
“I think I can do that, and I think it’s about the conduct of Government, which is important. And you can expect that’s the kind of leadership I will provide.”