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Tory Leadership: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss promise to increase scrutiny of Scottish govt as they head to Perth | Politics News

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have both promised to increase scrutiny of the Scottish government if they become the next prime minister – ahead of a visit north of the border.

Ms Truss, who remains the favourite to win the race, said she would get “Scotland’s economy moving” and would give Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) special legal protection, allowing them to be more outspoken as they scrutinise decisions made by the devolved government.

Mr Sunak promised Scottish civil servants would face greater scrutiny from Westminster and UK ministers would be required to be more visible in Scotland.

The pair will face questions from Tory members in Perth on Tuesday following a verbal tussle between Ms Truss and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over the past week.

Ms Truss called Ms Sturgeon an “attention seeker”, then the Scottish leader claimed the foreign secretary asked her how to get into Vogue before Ms Truss accused all three devolved nations’ leaders of playing “political games” over independence.

Calling herself a “child of the Union”, Ms Truss said she will deliver for all of the country and “will never talk down Scotland’s potential”, while saying the nation has been “let down by the SNP”.

She added: “I’ll make sure that my government does everything to ensure elected representatives hold the devolved administration to account for its failure to deliver the quality public services, particularly health and education, that Scottish people deserve.

“As prime minister and minister for the Union, I will deliver on my ambitious plan to capitalise on the opportunity we have to turbocharge the growth and business investment required to get Scotland’s economy moving.”

Ms Truss’ campaign team said she would push for a trade deal with India in which a long-standing 150% tariff on whisky exports would be slashed.

She would also alter the Scotland Act to give parliamentary privilege to MSPs to create more “robust questioning” of ministers and increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament to hold the Scottish government to account.

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Nicola Sturgeon is ‘an attention seeker’

Mr Sunak pledged to make it a requirement for Scotland’s most senior civil servant, the permanent secretary to the Scottish government, to attend Westminster’s Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs (PACAC) Select Committee every year – just like the UK government’s cabinet secretary.

He also promised to enforce “consistent reporting of public service performance data across the country” so Westminster could hold the Scottish government accountable for essential public service delivery.

The former chancellor said each nation needs to work together “shoulder to shoulder” as he accused the SNP of being able to “obscure its failures by picking and choosing the data it publishes”.

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Sturgeon is ‘always moaning’

Mr Sunak has been trailing behind in the polls of Tory members, who will decide who their new leader – and therefore prime minister – will be on 5 September.

He was handed a further blow on Monday after a third Conservative MP, former Welsh secretary Alun Cairns, switched allegiance from Mr Sunak to Ms Truss, saying he believes she is best placed to save the union and fears the break-up of the UK would be more likely under Mr Sunak.

Tory leadership race: Rishi Sunak wins over audience in Sky News’ Battle for Number 10 programme | Politics News

Rishi Sunak was deemed to have won Sky News’ Battle for Number 10 after the majority of audience members voted for him over rival Liz Truss.

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak faced tough challenges from Conservative members who are mostly undecided, followed by questions from Sky News’ Kay Burley.

After the pair put forward their arguments for why they should replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Tory party, and therefore prime minister, the audience members were asked who they thought had won the argument.

The audience, made up of Conservative Party members, convincingly backed Mr Sunak in a show of hands, rather than Ms Truss – who has been winning polls since the battle was whittled down to two.

Live updates: Truss says recession ‘not inevitable’; Sunak told he ‘knifed’ Johnson

Read more: Truss refuses request to apologise over public sector pay policy U-turn

Ms Truss put herself forward as the candidate of integrity, repeatedly saying she will always listen to people and will do something different if a policy is not working.

She said a recession is “not inevitable”, hours after interest rates were hiked, and promised “bold” action compared with Mr Sunak’s caution.

However, former chancellor Mr Sunak said Ms Truss’ vision “will make the situation worse” as he reminded audience members of his financial actions to help people during the COVID pandemic.

He stressed a need to get a grip on runaway inflation before cutting taxes, adding: “But it all starts with not making the situation worse.

“Because if we just put fuel on the fire of this inflation spiral, all of us, all of you, are just going to end up with higher mortgage rates, savings and pensions that are eaten away, and misery for millions.”

Tory leadership ballot papers delayed due to security fears | Politics News

Conservative members are facing delays in receiving their postal ballots to vote for who they want to be the party’s next leader due to security fears.

In a letter sent to Tory members seen by Sky News, the Conservative Party’s head of membership confirmed postal ballots will arrive “a little later than we originally said” as “we have taken some time to add some additional security” to the process.

Members were previously due to receive their postal votes this week.

However, the email sent to members says they should receive their ballot by Thursday 11 August.

Politics Hub: Sunak allies attack Truss public sector pay plan

The correspondence adds that voting more than once in the ongoing leadership contest will be treated as “an offence” and warns that any member who is found to have voted multiple times will “have their party membership withdrawn”.

It adds that Tory members can either vote by post or online.

But the Conservative Party has confirmed that the security fears have forced it to abandon plans to allow members to change their vote for the next leader later in the contest.

Allies of leadership hopeful Liz Truss were believed to have been concerned the original rule allowing Tory members to change their vote in the contest would work to her rival Rishi Sunak’s advantage.

The rules of the leadership contest, set by the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs and the Conservative Party board, state members should only vote once but if a “duplicate” vote is recorded, the second one will be counted.

CCHQ described it as a slight delay and were unable to give any further guidance.

A Tory Party spokesperson said: “We have consulted with the NCSC throughout this process and have decided to enhance security around the ballot process. Eligible members will start receiving ballot packs this week.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a new poll suggested Ms Truss has extended her lead over Mr Sunak in the leadership race.

It comes as Mr Sunak battles to make up ground during what is a key week in the contest for the keys to Number 10.

The latest YouGov poll of Conservative members for The Times newspaper shows Ms Truss’s lead has stretched to 34 points in the Tory leadership race, with 60% of party members now saying they will vote for the foreign secretary to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister.

This is compared to just 26% for former chancellor Mr Sunak.

The poll, carried out over the last five days, shows Ms Truss is now ahead of Mr Sunak among all age groups, across different parts of the country and with men and women.

The only category where he beats Ms Truss is among Tory Remain supporters.

The YouGov survey published on Tuesday also found almost nine in 10 Conservative members have now made up their minds how they will vote ahead of ballot papers going out this week.

But it will concern both potential leaders that more than 50% of party members believed whoever was elected to succeed Mr Johnson would lose the party its majority at the next election.

Just 19% of members thought Mr Sunak could lead the Tories to victory, while 39% thought Ms Truss could see off a challenge from Labour.

Voting will close on 2 September with the winner expected to be announced on 5 September.

As the leadership race continues to heat up, Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will once again face the cameras this week on Sky News.

Taking place on Thursday 4 August at 8pm at Sky Studios in west London, The Battle for Number 10 will see the candidates take part in back-to-back questioning from the live studio audience made up of Conservative Party members who remain largely undecided on who to vote for.

This will then be followed by an in-depth interview with Kay Burley.

The programme will be broadcast live for 90 minutes and for free on Sky News channel 501, on Freeview 233, on Sky Showcase channel 106, and across Sky News’ digital channels.

Tory leadership debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss halted after presenter faints in studio | Politics News

Tonight’s Conservative Party leadership debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak was halted after presenter Kate McCann fainted during the live broadcast.

Ms Truss held her hands to her face and said “oh my God” after a loud crash was heard – and then the contest was taken off air.

TalkTV said Ms McCann is “fine” but that the channel had been given medical advice not to continue.

“We apologise to our viewers and listeners,” it added in a statement.

As the debate was halted a message on TalkTV and The Sun’s stream read: “We’re sorry for the disruption to this programme.”

Truss and Sunak TV debate halted after incident in studio – live updates

The channel started broadcasting again shortly afterwards but cut to a different studio with presenter Ian Collins saying there had been a “medical issue”.

He said: “Everyone is OK so that is the good news. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are still currently in the studio chatting with readers and answering those questions.”

A Sun spokeswoman confirmed the incident was paused over a “medical issue”, adding: “We hope to be back on air soon.”

But TalkTV later tweeted that Ms McCann, their political editor, was not expected back on air.

Talk TV debate
Image:
The debate was taken off air following the incident

Ms McCann was meant to appear alongside The Sun’s political editor Harry Cole, but he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier today.

He tweeted to say he was “very proud” of his friend, who he said was “absolutely bossing it”.

Rishi Sunak has also sent his well-wishes to the presenter, tweeting: “Good news that you’re already recovering @KateEMcCann.

“It was a great debate and I look forward to getting grilled by you again shortly.”

And Liz Truss said: “Relieved to hear Kate McCann is fine. Really sorry that such a good debate had to end. Look forward to catching up with Kate and the rest of the team again soon.”

Talk TV debate

The incident came as Mr Sunak and Ms Truss were clashing once again over taxes, NHS funding and the economy in their second head-to-head televised debate.

The programme saw the pair take questions from Sun readers, with a cancer patient asking what could be done to fix the “broken” NHS and a struggling mum questioning if she should go vegetarian because of the rising price of meat.

NHS

Taxes and the economy caused the most acrimony.

Mr Sunak said he was “brave” to introduce a £12bn tax increase to pay for health social care, telling the audience: “I made sure we got the NHS the funding it needed to help work through the backlogs, get everyone the care they needed and do that as quickly as possible.

“It wasn’t an easy thing for me to do, I got a lot of criticism for it, but I believe it was the right thing to do as I don’t think we can have an NHS which is ultimately the country’s number one public service priority that is underfunded and not able to deliver the care it needs.”

Raising taxes ‘morally wrong’

But Ms Truss, who has pledged to immediately reverse the national insurance hike if she becomes prime minister, said it is “morally wrong” to raise taxes during a cost of living crisis.

She said she was committed to the extra money that was announced for the NHS but that she would fund this through general taxation.

She said: “Under my plans, we will still be able to start paying the debt down within three years, so it is affordable.

“We didn’t need to raise national insurance in order to pay, we did have that money available in the budget, it was a choice to break our manifesto commitment and raise national insurance.”

However, Mr Sunak quickly shot back, saying it was “morally wrong” to heap more debt on future generations because “we can’t be bothered to pay it off” now.

On how to fund things like public services, he said it was “entirely reasonable” to ask the largest companies to pay “a bit more” in corporation tax because they received billions in support to help them stay afloat during the pandemic.

But Liz Truss, who wants to scrap the scheduled 19p to 25p increase in corporation tax, said Mr Sunak’s policies would make the UK less competitive and push the country into recession.

Cost of living

Tax has become the clear dividing line between the two Tory leadership contenders, with Mr Sunak advocating prudence with the nation’s finances and Ms Truss pledging tax cuts of more than £30bn.

Mr Sunak conceded more support would be needed to help families pay their bills in October, when the energy price cap is predicted to go up once again. But he stopped short of announcing any new help.

Ms Truss, meanwhile, said she would scrap the green levy on energy bills to help struggling households.

Read More:
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss trade blows in fiery head-to-head Tory leadership TV debate
What happens now only Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are in the contest?

While tonight’s debate was acrimonious at times, it wasn’t as heated as last night’s showdown on the BBC, which saw Mr Sunak accused of “mansplaining” by allies of Ms Truss after he repeatedly talked over her.

Tory MPs are said to be concerned the contest is becoming “far too nasty” after the two sides traded increasingly personal attacks over the weekend.

With postal ballots set to arrive on Tory members’ doorsteps by 5 August, Mr Sunak needs good performances in the remaining debates and the early hustings.

Opinion polls and member surveys have suggested that he trails Ms Truss in the battle to win the votes of card-carrying Conservatives, with the foreign secretary the bookmakers’ favourite to be elected as Tory leader on 5 September.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will take part in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday 4th August at 8pm hosted by Kay Burley.

If you would like to be a member of the live studio audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please apply here.

Tory leadership race: Sunak accused of ‘mansplaining’ as blue-on-blue attacks escalate – with odds still favouring Truss | Politics News

The blue on blue attacks have ramped up after Rishi Sunak was accused of “mansplaining” to Liz Truss during their first head-to-head TV debate.

Mr Sunak spoke over Ms Truss several times as she attempted to explain her tax-cutting policies to the BBC audience of Tory members.

This prompted accusations of “mansplaining” – when a man explains something, typically to a woman, in a condescending or patronising manner.

Politics Hub: Tory MPs feat this is getting ‘far too nasty’ – live updates

Allies of Ms Truss said Mr Sunak had demonstrated “aggressive mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour”.

But veteran Conservative David Davis, who has run for leader twice, dismissed the accusations and said former chancellor Mr Sunak is simply “passionate”.

He told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “I think he’s passionate about these issues, he cares about it.

“He really does care about the fact that either us or our children will face phenomenal costs on this policy, life destroying, you’d have to sell your house, move out.

“I think it actually reflects well on him that he’s that passionate about the policy.”

Mr Davis added that when he was fighting for the leadership against David Cameron in 2005 he was “just as forensic and difficult” with him, but nobody accused him of “anything untoward”.

Subscribe to the Beth Rigby Interviews… podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke, who is backing Ms Truss, said Mr Sunak was “pretty aggressive”.

He told Sky News: “There were some pretty aggressive moments from Rishi at the beginning as Liz tried to set out her case.

“But by and large, I think the debate was held in a reasonable spirit, reflecting obviously the importance of issues.”

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Sunak ally dismisses ‘mansplaining’ accusations

Read more:
Police investigate death threat sent to Penny Mordaunt
Nadine Dorries hits out at Sunak’s pricey suit – but she wears £6,000 earrings

Despite the pair saying they want to run clean campaigns, the contest has become more and more angsty, with allies of the two trading increasingly personal attacks over the weekend.

During the debate, the first since they were whittled down to the final two, Ms Truss said she would impose a temporary moratorium on the green energy levy and reverse the national insurance rise.

She also said her plans would see the government start paying down the debt that mounted up through COVID relief measures implemented by Mr Sunak in three years’ time.

As she accused Mr Sunak of being “contractionary” by putting up taxes, which she said would lead to a recession, Mr Sunak interrupted her.

He said: “Liz, your plans… your own economic adviser has said that will lead to mortgage interest rates going up to 7%. Can you imagine what that’s going to do for everyone here and everyone watching? That’s thousands of pounds on their mortgage bill.”

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Truss and Sunak in head-to-head

And as Ms Truss tried to continue, Mr Sunak said: “It’s going to tip millions of people into misery, and it’s going to mean we have absolutely no chance of winning the next election either.”

Sophie Raworth, who was hosting the debate, had to step in to insist Mr Sunak allowed Ms Truss to speak.

After that, the pair had some cordial exchanges, including when Ms Truss complimented Mr Sunak on his dress sense after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries earlier criticised his expensive taste in clothes.

They also said they would want the other to be involved in their government.

Analysis: Sunak comes out more aggressive

Jon Craig - Chief political correspondent

Jon Craig

Chief political correspondent

@joncraig

The smiles didn’t last long. From the outset, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss argued bitterly for nearly half the debate on the economy and tax.

Her argument: “I’ll cut taxes now.” Him saying that it’s irresponsible and immoral. At times that got pretty fierce.

Mr Sunak, the underdog, was much more aggressive than in previous debates. But Ms Truss fought back strongly.

Most of it was more lively and more bitter, you might say, than the two previous debates they have taken part in.

China and Ukraine were dealt with only briefly. And then it got personal.

They also clashed on loyalty to Boris Johnson. There were personal questions as well about Ms Truss’s earrings and Rishi Sunak’s expensive suits. It all got quite passionate at times.

And finally, frontrunner Ms Truss invited Mr Sunak to be in her cabinet if she wins – and he appeared to say yes.

Ms Truss the frontrunner, but we’ve seen Mr Sunak catching up and a snap opinion poll last night suggested on the performances here in Stoke-on-Trent it’s neck and neck.

A snap poll by Opinium after the debate, based on a sample of 1,032 voters, found 39% believed Mr Sunak had performed best, compared to 38% for Ms Truss.

However, betting odds remain in favour of Ms Truss.

Postal ballots are set to arrive at Tory members’ doorsteps by 5 August, with another TV debate on Tuesday evening and a third on 4 August on Sky News.

Conservative leadership debate: Be in the audience

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will take part in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday 4th August at 8pm hosted by Kay Burley.

If you would like to be a member of the live studio audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please apply here.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss trade blows in fiery head-to-head Tory leadership TV debate | Politics News

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss stepped up the blue-on-blue attacks in a fiery head-to-head showdown which saw them clash over taxes, the schools they went to and their loyalty to Boris Johnson.

The pair were grilled over their economic policy, China and even earrings in their first live TV debate since making it down to the final two in the Tory leadership race.

They came out neck and neck in a snap Opinium poll of who performed best, with Mr Sunak just ahead at 39%, compared to Ms Truss at 38%.

Sunak and Truss clash over economy, tax and Boris Johnson in heated TV debate – live updates

The debate kicked off with a particularly heated discussion about the economy – which has been a key dividing line in the race to succeed Mr Johnson.

Former chancellor Mr Sunak claimed there is “nothing Conservative” about Ms Truss’s approach and it would give the party “absolutely no chance” of winning the next election.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss in turn suggested her rival would lead the country into a recession and accused him of “doom and gloom” economics.

As well as reversing the National Insurance tax hike, Ms Truss has said she would put an economic growth plan in place “immediately” if she becomes prime minister, along with imposing a temporary moratorium on the green energy levy.

Ms Truss said her plans would see the government start paying down the debt in three years’ time, but Mr Sunak hit back: “You’ve promised over £40bn of unfunded tax cuts – £40bn more borrowing.

“That is the country’s credit card and it’s our children and grandchildren, everyone here’s kids will pick up the tab for that.

“There’s nothing Conservative about it.”

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Poll puts Sunak and Truss level

But Ms Truss said no other country was putting up taxes and accused Mr Sunak of having no plan for growth.

Mr Sunak spoke over Ms Truss a number of times as he warned inflation was a problem in the 1980s and it is a “problem we have now”, adding: “We need to get a grip on inflation.”

The heated debate came after a weekend that saw allies of the two Tory leadership hopefuls trade increasingly personal attacks.

The pair also clashed over China as Ms Truss claimed Mr Sunak’s new tough stance was “driven by the Foreign Office”.

But it wasn’t all bad tempered with the cabinet secretary at one point complimenting Mr Sunak’s dress sense.

Earlier today, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries hit out at Mr Sunak by comparing his expensive suit and shoes to Liz Truss’ £4.50 Claire’s Accessories earrings – and it caused quite a stir.

When asked to address the issue, Mr Sunak said the leadership hopefuls should be judged “by their character and their actions”.

He said he “wasn’t born this way” as his family emigrated to the UK 60 years ago and he had previously worked as a waiter at an Indian restaurant.

‘Great admirer of his dress sense’

Ms Truss would not completely disown Ms Dorries’ comments, but she did appear to distance herself from them as she said she wasn’t sure where the £4.50 claim about her earrings came from.

But she said she does not have “any issue with how expensive anybody else’s clothes are” and is “not going to give Rishi fashion advice”, adding she is a “great admirer of his dress sense”.

On Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak said the outgoing PM is “one of the most remarkable people I’ve met” but said he would not let him serve in his cabinet if he were to become prime minister.

He got a round of applause when he said he resigned “on principle” as “enough was enough” due to issues over conduct and the economy.

Ms Truss would not say what it would have taken for her to resign. She would also not answer directly when asked if she would allow Mr Johnson to serve in her cabinet, instead saying she did not think that would happen.

Tobias Ellwood calls for an end to ‘blue on blue’ hostilities after being stripped of Tory whip | Politics News

Senior MP Tobias Ellwood has called for an end to “blue on blue” hostilities after being stripped of the Conservative whip yesterday.

The move was a punishment after Mr Ellwood failed to take part in Monday’s confidence vote in the government.

Mr Ellwood, chairman of the influential defence select committee, argued he was unable to return from a meeting with the president of Moldova due to “unprecedented disruption”.

Having the whip removed means Mr Ellwood, a long-term critic of Boris Johnson, is now not able to vote in the party’s leadership ballot.

He had voted for trade minister Penny Mordaunt in previous rounds.

On the conflict within the Tory party, Mr Ellwood told Sky News: “The nation wants to be impressed and inspired and not demoralised”.

He added: “We need to perhaps exhibit greater decorum, dial the temperature down a bit, showcase the ideas, the vision, focus on those things are important that the nation wants to see.”

Truss and Mordaunt set for battle for final two – politics latest

He warned that without an end to Conservative infighting “we’re just going to let ourselves down and indeed, commit ourselves to probably a long while in opposition”.

Mr Ellwood also disputed the claim that he did not acknowledge the whips call for him to return, telling Kay Burley: “I didn’t ignore it at all, I kept the whips’ office informed the entire time.”

He added that runways which had melted in the UK due to the heatwave and security issues in Moldova both impacted his journey back.

Mr Ellwood said he deeply regretted losing the whip and hoped it would only be temporary.

“I am very sorry I didn’t make it back,” he added.

Mr Ellwood told Sky News that he did not want to speculate about the reasons why he specifically lost the whip and whether or not he would have lost it if he had been a Liz Truss backer, rather than supporting Ms Mordaunt.

“I’d be then fuelling the blue-on-blue [attacks], which I’m actually trying to avoid,” he said.

“Let’s focus on how we can move forward and make sure that we conclude this leadership campaign to the highest professional standard that I think the British people want to see.”

But speaking to Sky News earlier, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke defended the decision to strip the Tory Party whip from Mr Ellwood, saying the senior MP had made a “very serious mistake”.

“He was in Moldova, rather than Ukraine. He was not on government work, he is a backbench MP,” Mr Clarke said.

He also suggested that Mr Ellwood knew the consequences of missing the vote.

“Look, I’m not a member of whip’s office. What I will say is that there are clear arrangements in place which all MPs understand, which govern the conditions for absence from votes, most especially critical votes like a motion of confidence in the government, which has the potential to trigger a general election,” Mr Clarke said.

Mr Ellwood was not the only Conservative MP to miss Monday’s confidence vote, but a Conservative source said on Tuesday that all other Tory MPs who were absent for reasons such as family illness were paired appropriately as agreed by the whips – meaning another individual voted on their behalf.

“Other Conservative MPs cancelled foreign trips, left poorly relatives and one MP’s mother died on the morning of the vote and still attended and voted,” the Tory source said.

Losing the whip effectively means that an MP is expelled from their party because they have not followed strict instruction from the leadership.

They do not lose their seat and will remain as an MP.

But, until the whip is restored, they will sit as an independent in the commons.

Ms Mordaunt is seen as the greatest challenger to Ms Truss, who is being backed by Mr Johnson’s allies to make it into the final two vying for Number 10.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain questioned why Mr Johnson removed the whip from Mr Ellwood so rapidly but “dragged his feet for days when it came to suspending the whip from his loyal supporter Chris Pincher” – who was eventually suspended over sexual assault claims.

“The Conservative leadership candidates should condemn this move and make clear they will restore the whip to Tobias Ellwood,” she said.

MPs voted 349 to 238, majority 111, to support the motion stating that the Commons has confidence in the government on Monday evening.

The victory means that Mr Johnson is expected to continue in Downing Street until September, when Tory members choose the winner from the final two selected by Tory MPs.

Mr Ellwood was first elected in 2005 as Conservative MP for Bournemouth East.