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Sunak reallocating votes to Truss, claims senior Tory decrying ‘dirty’ contest

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Former minister David Davis has accused Conservative leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak’s team of “reallocating” votes to Liz Truss because he believes he can beat the foreign secretary in the run-off.

The senior figure – a key backer of Penny Mordaunt’s campaign to become prime minister – claimed it was the “the dirtiest campaign” he had ever seen, and revealed he had asked for an inquiry.

Mr Davis said he had urged cabinet secretary Simon Case to examine into whether government resources had been used to help Ms Mordaunt’s rivals, claimed she had been subjected to “brutal” smears.

“It’s been the dirtiest campaign I’ve ever seen,” he told LBC. “I’ve written to the cabinet secretary, asked him to do an inquiry of the use of government resources in some respects.”

Mr Davis claimed on Andrew Marr’s programme that Mr Sunak’s team “reallocated” some votes he picked up from defeated candidate Tom Tugendhat to Ms Truss in the latest round of the leadership contest.

“He’s got his four or five chief whips that he has in a boiler room somewhere, reallocated them [to Ms Truss] … He wants to fight Liz, because she’s the person who will lose the debate with him,” Mr Davis claimed.

The former Brexit minister added: “Presumably what Rishi thinks is that he can take apart Liz’s economic plan.”

Ms Truss received a surprise surge in support as she battles it out against Ms Mordaunt to face Mr Sunak in the Tory leadership run-off decided by members, after Kemi Badenoch was eliminated.

Ms Truss picked up 15 votes to command the support of 86 Tory MPs in the penultimate ballot. Ms Mordaunt increased her share by only 10 to sit on 92, while Mr Sunak is still out in front on 118.

However, despite Mr Davis’ claims, Mr Sunak’s backer Chris Skidmore suggested Ms Truss was the candidate the ex-chancellor’s camp fears most when the final candidates go before members.

The senior Tory MP told Sky News: “Rishi versus Liz is going to be the most feared contest, in terms of that will be a battle for ideas rather than a battle of personalities.”

Meanwhile, Michael Gove denied that his backing of Ms Badenoch in the Tory leadership was “a clever plot” to help put Mr Sunak in No 10.

Mr Davis also claimed Ms Mordaunt had been the victim of “brutal” and “provably untrue” claims from MPs supporting other candidates.

He fired back at international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who had claimed that Ms Mordaunt had neglected her duties as trade minister and left others to “pick up the pieces”.

“On Anne-Marie Trevelyan saying about lazy – lazy, absolute nonsense, actually, the truth be told it shouldn’t be Anne-Marie Trevelyan in cabinet, it should be Penny,” he said.

“But because Boris preferred Anne-Marie because she was a loyalist to him, it wasn’t. So you’ve got all sorts of tangled arguments and fights going on, which of course, of course has an impact.”

The Independent has approached Mr Sunak’s campaign for comment.

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