Third of Tory members have already voted for the next PM in major blow to Sunak

ONE in seven Tory members returned their ballot within 48 hours of the leadership election opening – and a third cast their vote in the first five days of the contest. 

Some 14 per cent voted in the first two days, with more than half expected to have voted by the end of this week, Tory sources tell The Sun. 


Rishi Sunak is trailing rival Liz Truss in the Tory leadership raceCredit: Getty
Liz Truss is frontrunner in the race to be PM as The Sun can reveal a third of Tory members have already cast their vote


Liz Truss is frontrunner in the race to be PM as The Sun can reveal a third of Tory members have already cast their voteCredit: Splash

Around 160,000 Conservative members will decide the next PM, with party insiders expecting turnout to be lower than the 87 per cent in 2019. 

Our revelation will be a hammer blow to Rishi Sunak who faces an uphill struggle to close a 38 point between him and frontrunner Liz Truss.

With so many members seemingly having made up their minds the ex-Chancellor has a huge mountain to climb if he is to grab the keys to No10 from Ms Truss. 

It comes as the leadership rivals let rip before the latest hustings in Cheltenham, where the Tories are defending a wafer-thin 981 majority against the Lib Dems. 

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Despite pleas to turn their guns on their true political enemies, the rivals continued to launch stinging barbs at each other. 

It came after two Truss-supporting Cabinet Ministers dunked on Mr Sunak’s record as Chancellor and branded him two-faced.  

Chief Secretary Simon Clarke, who served as Mr Sunak’s No2 in the Treasury, and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng accused him of “digging his heels in” against Brexit reforms.

Firing a highly personal broadside at their old colleague, they swiped: “He says one thing and does another.”

Pals of Mr Sunak strongly denied the pair’s claims and shot back that they had both served alongside him in government and attacking him now was “ill-advised”. 

But Truss’ allies suggested the hitjob was a tit-for-tat retaliation after Deputy PM Dominic Raab went over the top to savage her plans.

Tory chiefs scrambled to play down party tensions that some fear could leave them hopelessly divided at the end of the contest.

Commons leader Mark Spencer insisted: “I think there’s much more that unites Liz and Rishi than divides them.”

Conservative chairman Andrew Stephenson added that whoever wins, the party must “unite behind a new leader and get to work on taking the fight to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.”

One Tory MP said they were “fed up” with the blue-on-blue friendly fire but confident they would still stuff Sir Keir Starmer at the next election.

They told The Sun: “We’ve got a fresh start with a decent new leader and Labour are stuck with Starmer and after everything that has happened can’t muster a lead of double digits.”

Meanwhile it was revealed that one-time contender Tom Tugendhat raked in an eye-watering £120,000 in donations for his doomed leadership bid.

It dwarfed the £12,500 received by Kemi Badenoch, despite her finishing fourth compared to his fifth. 

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