Who’s Backing Who: Friday Morning State of Play

Liz Truss will wake up with a smile on her face today, and not just because she won’t have to find her way out of any more rooms with cameras rolling. After the vote yesterday afternoon Guido speculated camp Liz may have some worries, as they would have to properly justify why Braverman and her backers should move in behind Truss and not Badenoch, given the latter’s strong showing. It turns out there wasn’t much to worry about at all: very shortly after the Attorney General’s elimination from the competition, she and her top backer Steve Baker rode in behind the Foreign Secretary. Not wholly unsurprising, just irritatingly anticlimactic…

Overnight we’ve also seen the ERG and Lord Frost come out for Truss, who urges Kemi Badenoch to stand down and back her. Yesterday morning when he body slammed Penny Mordaunt’s work ethic, he claimed he hadn’t made up his mind about who to back yet. With all the sincerity of a chocolate-covered child claiming they don’t know where the Nutella went…

Today things get really interesting: it’s debate time. So far candidates have taken lumps out of each other from their respective trenches, today they finally have to go over the top – a special metaphor just for Penny and Tom. Things kick off at ConservativeHome at 1pm, and continue over to Channel 4 at 19.30, where all candidates have confirmed their attendance. Followed by ITV on Sunday and Sky on Monday. 

Debates can make or break candidates at this stage, especially when there are a decent number of votes up for grabs and no one knows who’s going to win. In 2019, one debate made Rory Stewart – securing his place in the next round – and the subsequent debate 24 hours later broke him, as he decided to get undressed live on air. In a sign of how febrile things are, even Rishi’s agreed to join tonight’s Channel 4 debate, an unedifying challenge the frontrunners are sometimes able to duck out of. Will some MPs finally have to recognise that their candidate makes Theresa May’s public speaking look relaxed and charismatic? Guido looks forward to finding out…

The backers in full can be found here:

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