Rishi Sunak clashes with debate audience on trust
Meanwhile, one backbench Tory MP has suggested the former Chancellor, who is trailing badly in the polls, would probably stand down before the next general election if he loses – and potentially move to the United States. The clip, leaked to The New Statesman, features Mr Sunak telling party members he had been working to divert funding from “deprived urban areas” towards more prosperous towns.
He boasted of changing public funding formulas to ensure more prosperous towns received “the funding they deserve”, prompting furious condemnation from Labour.
The content of the clip comes as a major blow to Mr Sunak’s campaign just as voting gets away among the party’s roughly 200,000 members – but the identity of the person who gave the clip to the magazine is unclear.
The first source, who is well-connected in Westminster circles, played down the idea that it had come from camp of Ms Truss, 46.
Boris Johnson wants to “settle a score” with Rishi Sunak, said the insider
Rishi Sunak speaking at the event
Boris’s loyalists don’t just want Rishi beaten, they want him finished
They told Express.co.uk: “I’m sure there are lots of resentments all over the Tory Party.
“But I think it’s more likely to be Boris loyalists gunning for Rishi than Liz supporters. Boris’s loyalists don’t just want Rishi beaten, they want him finished.
“He definitely wants to settle a score and the Tunbridge Wells Tory audience, where the video came from, will definitely include some members who remain ‘disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ as far as Boris’s defenestration is concerned.
“She really has nothing to gain. She’s going to win with a lot of room to spare.”
They added: “I don’t think it’s co-ordinated. The leadership race is over, really. This is the sort of stuff you’d do if you were one percent behind, not 34 percent ahead.”
They also suggested Ms Truss’s campaign would be mindful of the need to attempt to reunite the party after her presumed victory, explaining: “I honestly think she’d rather win 60-40 without a bloodbath than 70-30 with blue-on-blue blood all over the floor!”
Despite her seemingly unassailable position, it was however unlikely that Mr Sunak, 42, would pull out, the insider suggested.
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Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson in Cabinet in June
They said: “I don’t think he can jack it in now. The ballot papers are out. Even if he said ‘please vote Truss’, the election would proceed.
“From Liz’s perspective, I think she’s also better to have a month to prepare than suddenly become PM on Monday.”
The backbencher told Express.co.uk while it was difficult to say one way or another, the leaker “could just be someone who doesn’t like Rishi”.
Mr Sunak’s campaign were “probably” speculating the leak came from his opponent’s camp, but it was impossible to prove, the MP stressed.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss spar during one of the televised debates
Consequently, he was likely to quit as an MP at the next election, the MP predicted, saying: “He is in great difficulty at the moment.
“I don’t think he will be happy to be a simple MP. I also don’t think he will be happy to serve under Liz.”
Referring to the fact that Mr Sunak still possesses a Green Card, permitting him to live and work on the other side of the Atlantic, the MP, who is backing Ms Truss, said: “It’s amazing that anyone with ambitions to be Prime Minister should at same time have an officially acknowledged intention to reside in the United States.
The New Statesman magazine said the remarks were made to grassroots Tories in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on July 29.
Labour said it was “scandalous” that Mr Sunak was “openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires”.
Foreign Office minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said: “This is one of the weirdest – and dumbest – things I’ve ever heard from a politician.”
Jake Berry, chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, said that in public Mr Sunak “claims he wants to level up the North, but here, he boasts about trying to funnel vital investment away from deprived areas”.
Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Johnson via Number 10 and his Parliamentary email address for comment.