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Hunt backs Sunak’s campaign after losing out in first ballot – as it happened

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Hunt and Zahawi are out as Sunak tops ballot and six candidates go through to round two

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee, is announcing the results of the first ballot.

Rishi Sunak – 88 votes

Penny Mordaunt – 67

Liz Truss – 50

Kemi Badenoch – 40

Tom Tugendhat – 37

Suella Braverman – 32

Nadhim Zahawi – 25

Jeremy Hunt – 18

He says that means Hunt and Zahawi are out of the contest. The others will go ahead to the second ballot tomorrow.

It’s been another busy day in Westminster, as two of the Tory leadership candidates were defeated in the ballot. Here is a round-up of the day’s top news stories:

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  • Rishi Sunak has taken an early lead in the Conservative leadership contest, as Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi were knocked out of the race to replace Boris Johnson.
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  • Penny Mordaunt launched her campaign to lead the Conservative party by vowing to overhaul Boris Johnson’s “failed model of leadership” and comparing the outgoing prime minister to Paul McCartney as she set out plans to dramatically slim down the cabinet.
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  • She would beat all other candidates in the Tory leadership contest in the final ballot of member – very easily, a YouGov poll for the Times suggests.
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  • Suella Braverman backer Steve Baker has insisted the attorney general will stay in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, despite only just clearing the minimum number of votes required to continue in the contest.
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  • Jeremy Hunt has backed Rishi Sunak to be the next prime minister. The former health secretary lost out in his bid to replace Boris Johnson earlier today after failing to get the required 30 nominations.
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  • Keir Starmer used prime minister’s questions to attack the tax affairs of Tory leadership candidates, while Boris Johnson insisted that while he had not wanted to depart No 10, he was nonetheless doing so “with my head held high”.
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  • Boris Johnson’s ministers have “given up on governing”, opposition parties have claimed after Priti Patel pulled out of an MPs’ questioning session with minimal notice, while a junior health minister was sent to explain a crisis in ambulance services.
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  • Sir Mike Penning has told Sky News that he has resigned as a Conservative party vice chair so that he can campaign openly for Penny Mordaunt. He says hers is the campaign with momentum.
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  • In an interview with Katy Balls for the Spectator, Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership candidate, has explained how she would pay for tax cuts. She would repay Covid debt over a longer period, she said
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  • Only 11% of voters would recognise a picture of Penny Mordaunt, the international trade minister and Tory leadership candidate, according to a poll by Savanta ComRes.
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  • Patrick Vallance has warned MPs that the world is about to be plunged into even deeper turmoil than it was during the Covid pandemic because of the impact of climate change.
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That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. You can follow all the latest UK politics news here. Goodnight.

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Jeremy Hunt has backed Rishi Sunak to be the next prime minister.

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The former health secretary lost out in his bid to replace Boris Johnson earlier today after failing to get the required 30 nominations.

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Sunak is “one of the most decent, straight people with the highest standard of integrity that I have ever met in British politics”, Hunt told the BBC. “In a period when we need to rebuild trust with the electorate that shows we are in tune with modern Britain.”

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The culture secretary has been one of the prime minister’s most ardent supporters, sticking by him even as support for his leadership collapsed at Westminster, PA reported.

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In a pre-released clip from BBC Panorama, Dorries says:

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I was quite stunned that there were people who thought that removing the prime minister who won the biggest majority that we’ve had since Margaret Thatcher in less than three years.

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Just the the anti-democratic nature of what they’re doing alone was enough to alarm me. And for me it was a coup.

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The full interview will air later on Wednesday.

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Rishi Sunak is discovering that hell hath no fury like the Daily Mail scorned, as the rightwing newspaper dedicates itself to destroying the former chancellor’s bid to be Tory leader.

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In the week since Boris Johnson was deposed, the newspaper has remained steadfastly loyal to the outgoing prime minister – and steadfastly opposed to those such as Sunak who helped to force him out of office.

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Friday’s front page asked the question: “What the hell have they done?” and blamed a party “in the grip of collective hysteria” for forcing a leadership election.

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The following day the 1.4 million people who buy the Mail’s Saturday print edition were informed that the MPs who had deposed Johnson – such as Sunak – were “Tory traitors” who had opened the door to Keir Starmer entering Downing Street as leader of “a coalition of chaos”.

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Here are three takeaways from the first ballot numbers.

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1) The results confirm that Rishi Sunak is the frontrunner among MPs. He had 55 publicly declared supporters, he has comfortably outperformed that total, and he is ahead of his nearest rival by a decent margin. He is also well placed to scoop up many of Jeremy Hunt’s votes, because he has (perhaps improbably) become the lead candidate for the Tory leftish/mainstream who were Hunt’s main backers.

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2) But the real story is that these results firm up Penny Mordaunt’s credentials as the “Stop Sunak” candidate. She had 38 publicly declared votes previously, and is now well ahead of Liz Truss. It is hard – but not impossible – to see how she does not get on to the final ballot for party members, and current polling suggests she would then win by a mile. (See 2.47pm.) That might change, of course; her campaign could implode over the next few weeks. But she looks like even more of a favourite than she was.

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3) Liz Truss, who at one point was seen as favourite to succeed Boris Johnson, is struggling. Her pitch has been that she was the candidate most capable of defeating Sunak. But she can no longer make that case on the basis of these results, and it is not even obvious that she should remain the lead candidate for the Tory right. Between them, Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman have more votes than she does. The pressure for the right to agree on a candidate who can get on to the final ballot will intensify. Braverman may be tempted to pull out before the ballot tomorrow (she probably won’t get any votes from Hunt supporters, and Nadhim Zahawi’s backers will want to transfer to someone more successful). But Badenoch may well decide to contest at least one more round.

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The main focus over the next few hours will be on what the weaker performers still in the contest decide to do. Braverman will come under pressure to concede. Tom Tugendhat may stay in – he would pick up some Hunt votes – but he may decide that now it’s time to cut his…

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