Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Tory right-wingers have reached their decision day

We're not going to find out the identity of the next Prime Minister today, but we have finally reached a genuine crunch-point in the race, because the Tory right will have to decide once and for all who their standard bearer is going into tomorrow's final ballot of MPs.  There's no realistic way that both Kemi Badenoch and Liz Truss can make it through - it has to be one or the other, and judging from yesterday's result, right-wing MPs just can't make up their minds.

Result of yesterday's ballot:

Rishi Sunak 115
Penny Mordaunt 82
Liz Truss 71
Kemi Badenoch 58
Tom Tugendhat 31

Given that Badenoch is not that far behind Truss and is clearly the more telegenic of the two, you'd think this might be the moment at which MPs take a step back and and realise they still have a golden opportunity to switch to a better path.  But Badenoch has two problems.  The candidate who has just been eliminated is Tom Tugendhat, and it's assumed that almost all his votes will go to either Penny Mordaunt or Rishi Sunak.  So Badenoch will almost certainly need a good number of direct switchers from Truss to overtake her rival - but Truss herself has some momentum behind her from yesterday, which will make it psychologically harder for her supporters to desert her.  

So I would still expect tomorrow's ballot to be contested between Sunak, Mordaunt and Truss.  The narrowed gap between Mordaunt and Truss could dramatically widen again today due to the redistribution of Tugendhat's votes, although it's hilarious that Boris Johnson has managed to reduce Mordaunt's support by one vote by removing the whip from one of her backers!  Nevertheless, the combined Mordaunt/Tugendhat vote yesterday was smaller (113) than the combined Truss/Badenoch vote (131), so it's still perfectly possible that Mordaunt will be squeezed out tomorrow.

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