iz Truss has rejected claims that he has a clear lead over rival Rishi Sink, even as his campaign was given a boost by the party heavyweight’s support over a crunch weekend in the race for No. 10.
The Foreign Secretary insisted it was a “very, very close race”, while declaring “support from the right across all parts of the Conservative Party” after securing the support of Tory centrist Tom Tugendhat.
Mr Sink, who has consistently beaten Ms Truss in polls for party members, faces an uphill battle to win before ballots start landing on his doorstep next week.
This is a very close race, and I am fighting for every vote.
With both contenders flying across the country to meet voters, Mr Sink tweeted pictures of himself with supporters in key southern constituencies with the caption: “Busy week meeting hundreds of members. He wouldn’t have it any other way.” Will be!
His latest plans in a policy blitz designed to revive his flagship campaign include reducing the number of closed shops on Britain’s high streets, allowing tougher penalties for graffiti and littering, and tackling anti-social behaviour. including increasing police powers for
Mr Sink also told The Sunday Telegraph that he would impose a £10 fine on patients who miss GP and hospital appointments as part of a “transformation” of the NHS.
Earlier, he attacked “stupid nonsense” in a speech in West Sussex, in an apparent attempt to outdo Ms Truss on so-called culture war issues that appealed to the party’s right.
In tough rhetoric, he vowed to stop “left-wing agitators” from bulldozing “our history, our traditions and our core values”.
But the former chancellor suffered a blow from allegations that he blocked efforts to overcome the Brexit impasse with the EU.
The attack came from Brendan Lewis, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, who has declared his support for Ms Truss and said that if she becomes Prime Minister, she will push for a swift return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland. Trust more.
The former cabinet minister’s endorsement of Ms Truss followed senior Tories Mr Tugendhat and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
During a campaign stop in Bromley, the foreign secretary was asked if her lead over Mr Sink in a member poll meant losing the contest.
She told reporters: “It’s a very close race, and I’m fighting for every vote.”
She said she was “absolutely delighted” to have Mr Tugendhat’s support, but called it “too early” to say whether she would appoint him as foreign secretary, Mr Tugendhat insisted. indicated that they were hoping to meet and emphasized that they had been “promised nothing”.
Ms Truss said: “He is a very talented person and I am very grateful to have the support from all parts of the Conservative Party as we need to re-unite after this leadership is elected.”
His latest policy announcements include a six-point plan on education, under which he promised that students with top A grades would receive automatic invitations to apply to Oxbridge and other prestigious universities.
Describing himself as “Education Prime Minister”, he also vowed to replace failing academies with a “new wave of free schools” and improve maths and literacy standards.
Ms Truss also told The Telegraph that there would not be another referendum on Scottish independence “on my watch”, with her rejection appearing to go further than Boris Johnson’s claim that now was “not the time”. .
Both candidates also pledged to “champion the rural way of life” to rural Conservative voters, to succeed Mr Johnson.
While the latest BMG Research poll of party loyalists for the Eye newspaper put Ms Truss ahead of Mr Sink by double digits, a survey of Tory councilors saw the two contenders close.
Ms Truss was on 31% and Mr Sink on 28% of 511 local Conservative politicians polled by Savanta Comers, figures that could give some hope to the former chancellor’s campaign.
Mr Tugendhat, who joined Ms Truss at her campaign event at Biggin Hill Airport, rejected the idea that Mr Sink should drop out of the race.
“No, he shouldn’t be standing,” said Mr Tugendhat, who himself recently dropped out of the competition.
“He must compete and challenge to win the votes and support of members across the UK and I’m sure he will.”