Liz Truss’s bid for the Tory leadership was bolstered by two polls that gave her a huge lead and support from former rival Sajid Javid when he criticized Rishi Sunak’s more cautious tax cut plans.
The foreign secretary led Mr. Sunak by 34 percent in a poll of YouGov party members before a poll for the ConservativeHome website placed her 32 percent ahead.
Mr Javid, whose resignation as health secretary minutes before Mr Sunak became chancellor, set off a cascade that forced Boris Johnson to step down as Tory leader and then backed the leader.
The failed leader candidate warned that “tax cuts are needed now” as Mr Sunak resists Ms Truss’s more radical plan to tackle rising inflation first.
The former chancellor, Mr. Javid, also warned in an op-ed for the Times that the nation risks “sleeping into a big-state, high-tax, low-growth, social-democracy model that risks becoming a middle-income economy by the 2030s.” . .
“If we can renew our government with a bold agenda, the Conservatives can still beat Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in the next election – and the evidence suggests that Liz is the best candidate for that,” he added.
Mr. Javid began leading the charge on a platform of fast tax cuts but quickly withdrew as he struggled to get enough nominations from Conservative MPs to get into the first ballot.
He supported Ms Truss shortly before the latest hunt for Tory members at an event in Cardiff on Wednesday evening.
A YouGov poll showed that 60% of party members polled between July 29 and August 2 said they intended to vote for the foreign minister, while 26% supported Sunak.
A poll of 1,043 members of the Conservative Party shows that only 11% do not know who they will vote for, and 2% said they would not participate in the elections.
Further evidence of her dominance came in a poll of 1,003 participants by the website ConservativeHome, of which 58% supported Ms. Truss versus Mr. Sunak’s 26%.
But Ms. Truss insisted she was not taking anything for granted, as the cybersecurity delay in issuing ballots gave her rival a little more time to catch up.
She acknowledged that there is “still a long way to go” in the competition as she continues to face questions about dropping a key political promise.
Asked if she was looking forward to being prime minister, Ms Truss replied: “I don’t take anything for granted. There is still a long way to go before the election of the leadership.”
Her campaign has fallen on hard times as she backtracked on an £8.8bn political pledge to cut public sector wage bills by paying workers in cheaper parts of the country less than those in more expensive ones, claiming it was ‘distorted’ .
But she declined to explain why the policy is being abandoned entirely if the problem is simply its presentation.
Critics of the plan argued that it would run counter to the government’s wage-levelling plan by cutting wages in poorer parts of the country, though Ms Truss insisted it was never intended to affect people’s current wage rates.
Information released by her campaign said that the potential savings of £8.8bn from the policy depended on whether it was “adopted for all public sector workers in the long term”.
Ms Truss said: “The policy I put forward was distorted.
“I wanted to make sure our important frontline workers like doctors and teachers were not worried, so I canceled the policy.
“I did it right away, I was determined and I was honest with the public about what I was doing.”
The first mail ballots were supposed to be sent out this week, but the party has delayed mailing the ballots on the advice of cybersecurity experts.
The party made changes to its process on the advice of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) following warnings that hackers could change member votes.
The ballots were supposed to be sent out on Monday, but now they can be delivered as early as Thursday, August 11th.
A Conservative spokesman said: “We have consulted with the NCSC throughout this process and have decided to strengthen the security of the voting process.
“Eligible members will begin receiving voting packages this week.”
A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “Protecting the democratic and electoral processes in the UK is a priority for the NCSC and we are working closely with all parliamentary political parties, local authorities and MPs to provide leadership and support in the area of cybersecurity.
“As you would expect from the UK’s national cybersecurity body, we have provided the Conservative Party with recommendations on security grounds for the online voting of leaders.”
The party has been forced to abandon plans to allow members to change their vote if they change their mind about which candidate to support during the electoral process, The Telegraph reported.