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Tory leadership race: Tom Tugendhat appeals to colleagues to back a candidate 'untainted' by events of last two years

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has appealed to parliamentary colleagues to back a candidate in the leadership race “untainted” by the events of the last two years.

While he remains in the contest after securing 37 backers, he faces an uphill battle to make up ground on his rivals and a ballot today could be critical to his fortunes.

Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat

The candidates with the lowest number of votes will be automatically eliminated.

He tweeted this morning: “MPs have a very simple choice.

"Choose from a group of candidates who have all worked in the last government, or choose a leader untainted by the last two years. We need #ACleanStart.”

While there remains the potential for further twists in the ballot, the odds on Tugendhat making it to the final have lengthened, with bookmakers pricing him at 33/1 to make it to the last two. However, he has reportedly made a powerful case for his candidacy at a hustings meeting this morning.

And his plea for a "battle of ideas" rather than a "knife fight in a phone box" went down well, according to media reports.

He has built his campaign around the need for a fresh start and to restore the reputation of MPs, saying trust had collapsed in politicians.

The six remaining candidates will today face a second round of voting by Conservative MPs, which got under way this morning. The declaration is due to be made at about 3pm.

The field will be narrowed as the least popular candidate gets knocked out.

The campaign team behind Mr Tugendhat has given no indication of whether, if he does not progress, he intends to endorse a rival candidate.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Penny Mordaunt as a leading contender in the race has taken some of her rivals by surprise.

She has the backing of the Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins

This morning, Ms Mordaunt pledged to halt Channel crossings by people seeking asylum by "cutting off fuel supplies and boats".

But many of the county's MPs continue to keep their cards close to their chest and have not chosen to public with endorsements.

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