Tory leadership jostling begins as Boris Johnson teeters on the brink of exit from Number 10


Now the leadership race is REALLY on: Rishi sends out Mrs Sunak to serve tea to waiting press (in £38 mugs) – as Tom Tugendhat reveals struggles in doing daughter’s hair, and Tobias ‘the hero’ Ellwood ‘begins PM bid’ as he takes on Boris over defence cash

  • Tory hopefuls begin leadership jostling as Boris Johnson teeters on the brink 
  • Rishi Sunak’s wife brings out tray of hot drinks for waiting press – in £38 mugs
  • Tobias Ellwood and Tom Tugendhat grill PM in Commons committee hearing
  • Liz Truss and Jeremy Hunt concentrate on day jobs amid Westminster drama

Tory leadership jostling was on full display this afternoon as Boris Johnson teeters on the brink.

With the Prime Minister facing a torrent of Conservative MPs calling for him to go, those hoping to replace him were making themselves visible in a variety of ways.

Some used Parliament’s set-piece occasions while others paraded how they were getting on with their day jobs.

And even the family members of leading Tories were thrust into the spotlight as speculation about who could replace Mr Johnson intensified. 

Rishi Sunak was among the first to thrust the knife into the PM as part of the Tory revolt.

He dramatically quit as Chancellor last night to throw Mr Johnson’s premiership into fresh peril.

And while reporters were camped outside his London home today – hoping for a first appearance from Mr Sunak since his departure from Government – the ex-Chancellor’s wife popped out to offer refreshments.

Akshata Murty, the heiress of an Indian billionaire, was pictured carrying out a tray of hot drinks for waiting members of the press, as well as a bowl of nuts and plate of biscuits.

Rishi Sunak's wife, Akshata Murty, was today pictured carrying out a tray of hot drinks for waiting members of the press

Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, was today pictured carrying out a tray of hot drinks for waiting members of the press

The mugs being carried by Ms Murty were later revealed to be Emma Lacey products - with each one worth £38

The mugs being carried by Ms Murty were later revealed to be Emma Lacey products – with each one worth £38

The scene was immediately compared to when Mr Johnson himself delivered a tray of teas for journalists camped outside his Oxfordshire house in 2018

The scene was immediately compared to when Mr Johnson himself delivered a tray of teas for journalists camped outside his Oxfordshire house in 2018

The mugs being carried by Ms Murty were later revealed to be Emma Lacey products – with each one worth £38. 

The scene was immediately compared to when Mr Johnson himself delivered a tray of teas for journalists camped outside his Oxfordshire house in 2018.

That came when Mr Johnson was facing a controversy by his comparison of Muslim women wearing the burka to letterboxes and bank robbers.

Mary Archer was also famed for bringing cups of tea to waiting press packs gathered outside her Cambridgeshire home during one of the many scandals afflicting her husband, Sir Jeffrey Archer, in his political career.

The recent row over Ms Murty’s non-dom tax status was widely viewed as having fatally damaged her husband’s hopes of replacing Mr Johnson.

But Mr Sunak’s decision to quit the Cabinet – within minutes of Sajid Javid’s exit as health secretary – may have helped revive his fortunes among some Tory MPs.

Tom Tugendhat and Tobias Ellwood, senior Tory MPs who both chair influential Commons committees and have been touted as potential leadership candidates, got the chance to quiz the PM in person today.

As Mr Johnson appeared before the powerful Liaison Committee – formed of the chairs of all other Commons committees – Mr Tugendhat quizzed the PM about whether he was currently able to ‘concentrate’ on British support for Ukraine.

Mr Tugendhat, the chair of the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, also asked Mr Johnson what he viewed as victory for Ukraine.

The PM replied: ‘That is for them to decide. President Zelensky has set out his ambitions. It will ultimately be for him to decide what the terms that he wants.

‘But he has been very clear that he would like to return at least to the status quo ante February 24th.’

Tom Tugendhat - a former soldier who has not ruled out a Tory leadership bid - began his day by sharing his attempts in doing his daughter's hair

Tom Tugendhat – a former soldier who has not ruled out a Tory leadership bid – began his day by sharing his attempts in doing his daughter’s hair

Tobias Ellwood

Tom Tugendhat

Senior Tory MPs Tobias Ellwood and Mr Tugendhat spent their afternoon grilling the PM during his appearance at the Commons’ Liaison Committee

The PM is teetering on the brink as he faces a torrent of Conservative MPs calling for him to resign and leave Downing Street

The PM is teetering on the brink as he faces a torrent of Conservative MPs calling for him to resign and leave Downing Street

Mr Ellwood receieved widespread praise for his efforts in trying to save fallen PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017

Mr Ellwood receieved widespread praise for his efforts in trying to save fallen PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017

Mr Tugendhat – a former soldier who has not ruled out a Tory leadership bid – began his day by sharing his attempts in doing his daughter’s hair.

Despite declaring himself as ‘quite pleased’ with his efforts, the father-of-two revealed on Twitter how he had been told: ‘You’re not good at this.’

Mr Ellwood – who receieved widespread praise for his efforts in trying to save fallen PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017 – also grilled the PM during his Liaison Committee appearance.

The former minister, now the chair of the Commons’ Defence Committee, pressed Mr Johnson over defence spending commitments as he urged the PM to ‘invest more’.

He demanded Mr Johnson reconsider a shrinking of the size of the Army.

Following his comments, Isabel Hardman – assistant editor of the Spectator, which is often branded the Tory party’s ‘in-house magazine’ – drily noted: ‘Tobias Ellwood seems to have mistaken this Liaison Committee meeting for a leadership hustings and has come with a speech about Britain’s place in the world.’ 

Earlier in the day, Mr Javid took the opportunity of his resignation speech in the Commons chamber to outline what might be the beginnings of his own leadership campaign.

The now former health secretary – who competed against Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership contest – told MPs: ‘I got into politics to do something, not to be somebody.

‘So it is hard in one way, but not in another. Being a good father, a husband, a son and a citizen is good enough for me.

‘If I can continue to contribute to public life and my party from the back benches it will be a privilege to do so.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss revealed how she had spent the day ratifying Finland and Sweden's formal applications to join NATO

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss revealed how she had spent the day ratifying Finland and Sweden’s formal applications to join NATO

Mr Johnson's long-time leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, spent the day highlighting his efforts as MP for South West Surrey

Mr Johnson’s long-time leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, spent the day highlighting his efforts as MP for South West Surrey

Away from Parliament, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss used her frequently updated social media accounts to reveal how she had spent the day ratifying Finland and Sweden’s formal applications to join NATO.

Ms Truss was later set to fly away from the dramatic events at Westminster as she is due to attend a G20 summit in Bali later this week.

Mr Johnson’s long-time leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, spent the day highlighting his efforts as MP for South West Surrey.

He only made a passing reference to ‘other events’ at Westminster as he publicised his meeting with NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard about a new cancer surgery centre at a local hospital.

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