Voting ends but Sunak backers think he could pull off SHOCK win

Rishi Sunak 'should accept it's all over' says Kay Burley

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Polling has suggested the overwhelming favourite to be unveiled as the winner is Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who is 1/25 with the bookmakers compared to 10/1 for Mr Sunak. But sources among the former Chancellor’s supporters believe he still has a chance to pull off a major shock, with the result due at 12.30pm.

Mr Sunak had been under pressure to quit the race because Ms Truss appeared to be so far ahead. Around 160,000 Tory party members have voted.

But one senior supporter noted: “If you took out the polls and just looked at the two campaigns you would think Rishi was well ahead.”

One senior backbencher on Team Sunak added: “Most of my constituency party members have voted for Rishi.

“That’s not because I have pushed them, it’s because they believe he is the best candidate.

“I’m not sure where this narrative has come from that Liz is miles ahead.

“The feedback we are getting from around the country is that Rishi is doing very well and picking up lots of votes.

“It’s going to be a lot closer than people think and there could be a shock.”

The expectation and confidence in her team that Ms Truss will win easily has already led to her team leaking her plans for who would take key cabinet positions.

Kwasi Kwarteng a long-term friend and ally is pencilled in to be Chancellor, Therese Coffey could be Health secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg Business Secretary, Tom Tugendhat or Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, Penny Mordaunt at international trade, Jake Berry as Party chairman, Wendy Morton as Chief Whip, Kemi Badenoch Education Secretary and James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary.

A survey of 801 party members between August 18-25 by Techne UK showed that Ms Truss leads Mr Sunak in every category.

She leads Mr Sunak by 41 points on taxes, 40 on inflation and 37 on immigration and even in the areas where the margins are narrowest – civil rights and Brexit – Ms Truss has a clear lead of seven points and 12 points respectively.

As choice of leader, Ms Truss has the support of 64 percent of Conservative members compared to Mr Sunak’s 36 percent.

But questions are being raised over the polling of party members.

One party constituency chairman told “I do not know how polling companies can actually survey party members accurately.

“I have been in touch with CCHQ and they have been getting complaints from people who thought they were members and aren’t because their membership lapsed.

“So, if people are identifying as party members but not actually members then it skews the picture.”

There is also evidence that Mr Sunak, who has managed to meet most of the party associations around the UK and travelled to a majority of the constituencies, has managed to turn voters in his favour.

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Messages sent to one party association chairman after Mr Sunak spoke at a constituency meeting showed that he had won over undecided voters or previous supporters of Ms Truss.

One previously undecided member wrote: “Can I just say superb today – Rishi was excellent, honest, a man with a plan, no notes on top of his game.

“I managed to chat with him briefly, very impressed.

“My challenge is to get others to share my enthusiasm.”

Another, who had been leaning towards Ms Truss, said: “Rishi’s professionalism has won me over.”

An MP backing Mr Sunak said: “We are getting a lot of this sort of message and the ground campaign is more effective than people think.”

Mr Sunak’s decision to back Leave in 2016 compared to Ms Truss supporting Remain in the referendum could also be playing a role despite hardline Brexiteer MPs backing the Foreign Secretary.

Another Brexiteer Conservative currently working for an activist group who had been expected to back Ms Truss explained why he was supporting Mr Sunak.

They said: “I don’t believe this conversion thing. All I know is that Rishi was with us when we were being called loons and nutters and Truss was part of Project Fear.

“More than that Sunak was the person who helped people out in the middle of the pandemic and lockdown and ensured people did not lose their jobs.”

Another factor that supporters of Mr Sunak believe could help is that as many as a third of Tory members live in London.

“Rishi has much higher support in London than Truss does,” one senior party member noted.

“People do not appreciate how many more members there are in London compared to other parts of the country.

“It was clear even to Truss supporters at the last hustings this week in London that the room was very much with Rishi.”

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