The five remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership race are preparing to face-off in a TV debate tonight.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak came out on top of yesterday’s ballot of Tory MPs, with Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss following close behind in second and third.
Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat are also in the running, although Suella Braverman was eliminated after failing to secure 30 votes.
The candidates will now go head-to-head in the first of several leadership debates, with the first broadcast live on Channel 4 at 7.30pm tonight.
Hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the five MPs vying for the top job will answer questions from a studio audience of floating voters.
A second debate is due to take place on Sky News on Tuesday after further rounds of vote, with the final two candidates then set for a summer of hustings before a winner is eventually selected by Conservative Party members.
The new leader will be announced on September 5.
Mr Sunak remains the frontrunner after finishing on top during both rounds of voting, although Ms Mordaunt remains popular among the party’s grassroots and Ms Truss has succeeded in picking up support from Ms Braverman’s followers.
Following her elimination, Ms Braverman announced she would be supporting Ms Truss, describing the Foreign Secretary as the ‘best person to unleash the opportunities of Brexit’ and deliver tax cuts.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has thrown his support behind Ms Truss as he urged Ms Badenoch to pull out so there can be ‘unity among free marketeers’.
‘Kemi and Suella Braverman set out convincing programmes, with differing emphases, for change,’ the 57-year-old wrote in The Daily Telegraph.
‘But Liz’s depth of experience, her energy and ideas – as well as the simple fact she has the most votes of the three – put her in the lead.
‘It is now time for pragmatism. I urge Kemi to stand down in return for a serious job in a Truss administration.’
However, Ms Badenoch’s spokesman responded: ‘Kemi has brought interesting ideas and a new approach to this leadership contest. She is looking forward to the debates this weekend.
‘She has no intention of stepping down and is in it to win.’
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