Rishi Sunak’s hopes of a gradual rise to power took a hit after Boris Johnson’s supporters warned he would face an “ungovernable” conservative parliamentary party, while Penny Mordaunt’s campaign insisted he stay in. race.
The former chancellor could be appointed successor to Liz Truss as party leader, and therefore prime minister, as early as 2pm on Monday if Mordaunt, the leader of the municipalities, fails to collect the necessary 100 nominations from parliamentarians.
Sunak, who has more than 160 nominations, became the very likely winner after Johnson announced Sunday night that he would not be running. The former prime minister said he had more than 100 MPs supporting him, but others were skeptical.
Christopher Chope, the Christchurch MP and Johnson’s supporter, warned on Monday that Sunak was seen as undermining Johnson and Truss, and therefore could not expect loyalty from Conservative MPs. To get a mandate, Chope said, Sunak had to hold a general election.
“We have a parliamentary party that is completely torn apart and is ungovernable,” Chope told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. to guarantee him his support in the event that he is elected leader of the party and of the country.
“Unless we can have someone as our leader in parliament who demands the support and respect of the parliamentary party, we are in fact ungovernable.
Watch: Boris Johnson withdraws from the race for 10 Downing Street
“Unlike Boris, who had a mandate, we now have the prospect of having a Conservative party leader who does not have a mandate from the country and will not even have a mandate from the members.”
Asked if he would support Sunak if we won, Chope replied: “I supported Boris Johnson and I supported Liz Truss, and I saw before my eyes their authority undermined by the people who now wish to take control and inherit the crown.
“Respect is a mutual thing. If the people who are now seeking the crown want to have the respect that comes with having a mandate, then what I’m saying is that the best way to get that respect is to win a mandate with people, which is why I think a ‘ general election is essentially the only answer.
“Otherwise we will go from bad to worse. We will have constant rebellions as we try to change policies ”.
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Mordaunt is stuck on around 30 publicly declared MP nominations, though her team hopes to be encouraged by some Johnson supporters moving in with her.
Mordaunt supporters on Sunday swore she was still in the running and on Monday morning they released details of a poll which they claimed showed she was the best placed candidate to unite the nation.
The Deltapoll poll of 4,000 voters found that Mordaunt was more attractive to voters in the seats earned by the Tories in 2019 than Sunak or Johnson. She also found that she was considered more trustworthy, “pointing out that she is the only candidate who can unite the country and restore confidence in the government,” she claimed in her campaign.