Who’s Backing Who: Wednesday Morning State of Play

At 4 pm today we will learn who the final two are. MPs vote from 1 pm to 3 pm, though we’re still not clear whether they’ll vote for the candidate they want to win, or the candidate Grand Marshall Gavin Williamson has told them to vote for. Kemi Badenoch’s 59 ex-backers won’t have had a moment’s silence since she got knocked out yesterdayIf this were a TV drama, today would be a fantastic half-time series final. 

Conventional wisdom dictates Kemi’s supporters will by-and-large split for Liz, likely not for Penny, and a couple may get Rishi over the 120 line – Sir Desmond Swayne among the first to make the Kemi to Sunak switch. All eyes are on Michael Gove, who has faced continual allegations he was only backing Kemi before persuading her to fold in behind Rishi. Kemi and Rishi were spotted in parliament yesterday, though Badenoch sources were adamant she was merely “in the same vicinity” as her rival and “didn’t speak”. Presumably Badenoch can now spend four weeks leisurely focusing on what Secretary of State role she can demand in the winners’ administration…

If that wasn’t enough excitement, we also get Boris’s last PMQs proper. His attendance may be a bit awkward, however, given he’s already said his goodbyes and bowed out during last week’s session, implying he may be unavailable to do today. Now his No. 10 team will be having to come up with more perorations and Starmer put-downs. Will the Tories clap him out? 

And if that wasn’t enough excitement, thanks to Tobias Ellwood losing the whip yesterday – not Tom Tugendhat as our evening email accidentally said – there’s the numerical possibility all candidates could tie on 119 votes each. Already Sir Graham’s had to draw up contingency plans for an emergency re-vote tomorrow if such an event occurs. There are concerns Westminster could be facing an imminent popcorn shortage…

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