Tory leadership race turns into bloodbath as explosive new claims emerge

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Candidates looking to become the next Prime Minister have been briefing against one another as they become increasingly desperate to make it into the final two of the contest. has seen videos being sent around by MPs that aim to damage Liz Truss’s bid to become Tory leader by drawing attention to previous comments she made, while fresh allegations have been levelled at Penny Mordaunt over her judgement in Government.

The bitterness of the leadership race has ratcheted up ahead of the latest knock-out vote in Parliament this evening.

Conservative MPs reduce the number of people still in the campaign from five to four when they vote for who they want to see in No10.

At 8pm, the candidate with the least support will be eliminated, with votes also to take place tomorrow and Wednesday to whittle down the number of leadership hopefuls to just two.

The finalists will then have a month to make their case before the wider party membership votes to determine who should be given the top job.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who topped both the first two ballots, is widely seen as having secured a position in the final run-off, with Ms Truss and Ms Mordaunt competing with Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat to secure the other spot.

MPs supporting rivals of Ms Truss are currently sharing videos of her past comments on Brexit and on austerity in an attempt to derail her campaign.

One clip doing the rounds in WhatsApp groups shows the current Foreign Secretary floundering and struggling to answer whether she had “personally been affected by austerity” while being grilled by LBC radio host Eddie Mair.

Another from before the 2016 EU referendum vote shows her warning of the damages Brexit would do to the economy.

She said “we’ve got to be very careful about taking the single market for granted”, describing it as “crucial” for the UK’s economic growth.

In last night’s TV debate, Ms Truss sought to neutralise attempts to attack her for previously backing Remain.

Asked by Rishi Sunak if she most regretted having been a Liberal Democrat in her youth or backing the UK’s continued EU membership in 2016, the South West Norfolk MP said she had been on a “political journey”.

Meanwhile, Ms Mordaunt is today facing fresh questions over her judgement in office after meeting with the leader of the controversial Muslim Council of Britain last year despite the Government introducing a policy of ‘not engaging with the group in 2009.

Supporters of Ms Mordaunt insist she met the group in her capacity as a constituency MP rather than as a minister.

More to follow…

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