Desperate scramble to reunite the Tory right – though “right” is a relative term as it becomes pretty clear the Tories are swinging to the right in this contest in any event.
The snap poll of 876 Conservative Party members (by Yougov on Wednesday), who will decide between the final two candidates to replace Boris Johnson, showed Penny Mordaunt ahead on 27%. Second place was Kemi Badenoch on 15%, followed by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss on 13%
In the event that Ms Mordaunt does not make the final round, Ms Truss would beat Mr Sunak by 67% to 28%.
Looks like Simon Jupp is backing a loser! – Owl
From the BBC’s review of the news headlines:
Many of today’s papers are leading on scrutiny being directed at Conservative leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt by supporters of her rival Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
“Knives out for Penny!” says the Daily Express – after Ms Mordaunt again performed well in the latest round of the leadership race. The paper says there’s now a “determined bid” among Ms Mordaunt’s critics to “wreck” her hopes of becoming prime minister.
There’s ample evidence of this in the Daily Mail, which sports the headline, “Mordaunt under the Microscope”. It also devotes 10 pages to the contest and describes in detail the claims her enemies have made about her.
The paper raises questions about her attitude to women and transgender issues, the free press and her Royal Navy credentials – as well as suggesting that she was a “part-time minister”.
She is also condemned by Lord Frost, a prominent backer of Liz Truss, who writes in The Telegraph that a government led by her could not succeed.
The Guardian thinks the contest is becoming “increasingly acrimonious” and that rival Tory camps are aiming their fire at Ms Mordaunt.
The i believes her rivals fear her popularity among the grassroots – who will choose the winner from the final two candidates. The paper carried out polling suggesting the public prefer her to Liz Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak – even though she remains relatively obscure among voters.
The Mail’s sketch-writer, Henry Deedes, believes Ms Truss gave a true-blue message during her campaign launch on Thursday – but her presentation remains a work in progress. Her “joints could do with a squirt of oil,” he says.
The Financial Times notes the foreign secretary mistimed her entrance at the event and failed to remember the way out – symbolising a campaign struggling to find its bearings.
Macer Hall, the political editor of the Daily Express, believes the party’s low-tax, free-marketeer wing is paying the price for disunity and there is now a desperate scramble to reunite the right.
The Times’ editorial welcomes the upcoming TV debates, saying the candidates need to be subjected to forensic scrutiny to establish which of them is genuinely up to the job.