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Tories brace for ‘blue on blue dogfight’ in last round of leadership race

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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to face off after Penny Mordaunt is voted out, as party members prepare to pick PM

Conservatives are braced for a “blue on blue dogfight” as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss enter a six-week battle to become the UK’s next prime minister, with Penny Mordaunt’s supporters blaming hostile briefing for knocking her out of the race.

The vote among MPs selecting the final two candidates saw Sunak retain his lead, with 137 votes. Truss, the foreign secretary who had trailed Mordaunt throughout the previous rounds, took 113 votes, just ahead of Mordaunt’s 105.

Despite coming second among MPs, Truss is the favourite among Conservative party members, according to polling, with Sunak described as the underdog. About 160,000 fee-paying members – half aged over 60, 97% white and skewing male from southern England – will have the chance to vote next month to decide who will become prime minister in early September.

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