Chris Skidmore has become the first Conservative MP to publicly switch his backing from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss in the in the Tory leadership race.
Announcing his defection in an article for The Telegraph, Mr Skidmore said he had became "increasingly concerned" by the Sunak campaign's "consistently changing position " on policy.
He urged other Tory MPs to join him in switching support to the Foreign Secretary , saying: "It is never too late to make the right decision".
The switch is especially noteworthy as Mr Skidmore, one of the most prominent Tory supporters of Net Zero , is seen as being on the party's liberal wing, while many of Ms Truss's most prominent backers are on the traditionalist Right.
A Truss campaign source claimed the "floodgates could open" now Mr Skidmore, the MP for Kingswood and a former universities minister, had flipped support, with other defections possible later this week.
Mr Skidmore wrote: "The status quo cannot be an option. Initially, I had backed Rishi Sunak during the MPs' stage of the contest.
"Yet over the past few weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned by his campaign's consistently changing position, especially on the economy , to chase votes. I am convinced that we need a bolder, more positive approach to the UK's future."
In another boost to the Truss campaign, nine other Tory MPs who were yet to declare who they would support in the final stretch of the leadership race have backed her.
Damian Collins, Gordon Henderson, Henry Smith, James Davies, Mark Fletcher, Nigel Mills, Stephen MacPartland, Mary Robinson and Andrew Lewer co-signed a letter with Mr Skidmore, shared with The Telegraph, that said: "We are all patriots and optimists, and we agree with Liz Truss's assessment that our country's best days are ahead of us.
"But this can only be true if we make it so, and that requires action. We need to back our economy, support our constituents and our businesses, and drive the growth we need to get us back on track. That is why we are voting for Liz for prime minister."
The developments will be used by the Truss campaign to argue that she has momentum in the race . MPs' endorsements are historically in part shaped by the prospect of ministerial jobs if they back the winner.
Ms Truss consistently leads Mr Sunak, the former chancellor, in opinion polls of Tory members , sometimes getting more than double his support, although Sunak campaign figures have questioned the reliability of such surveys.
Four former Tory leadership rivals have also endorsed Ms Truss in the last fortnight – Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor, Penny Mordaunt, the trade minister, Sajid Javid, the former health secretary, and Tom Tugendhat, the Commons foreign affairs committee chairman.
The Sunak campaign argue they have the support of a majority of Tory MPs. They also have the backing of two former Tory leaders, Lord Howard and Lord Hague , compared to Ms Truss's one, Sir Iain Duncan Smith .
Mr Sunak has recently announced two major tax cuts – a reduction of VAT on energy bills and a four percentage point decrease in the basic rate of income tax by 2029 – but both were labelled U-turns by the Truss campaign because of his fierce criticism of his rival's tax cuts .
Liz Truss will unite the party – and the country
At a time of global challenges, from war to rising energy prices, the Conservative party faces a choice in deciding who should be elected prime minister , writes Chris Skidmore MP .
Do we seek to continue with business as usual on the economy, knowing that this approach has led us to where we are now, or are we prepared to face the future and recognise that we, along with the country, must embrace change and innovation if we are to succeed?
The status quo cannot be an option. Initially, I had backed Rishi Sunak during the MPs' stage of the contest. Yet over the past few weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned by his campaign's consistently changing position, especially on the economy , to chase votes. I am convinced that we need a bolder, more positive approach to the UK's future.
Above all, we need a leader who will unite the party. Liz Truss has demonstrated that she has the leadership and personal ability to bring us all together. We cannot afford to be seen as a divided party, and I now believe that Liz is the best person to unite us and the country in meeting the challenges we face.
Liz has based her campaign on a relentless focus on the future. She knows Britain must continue to stand tall on the world stage, including in its leadership on the environment. She played her part at Cop26, the biggest international summit we have ever hosted. She is resolute in building on its historic success by achieving Net Zero emissions in 2050 in a way that doesn't harm people or businesses.
Delivering on this isn't just good for the environment. It's about strengthening our future energy security by backing renewables and clean energy while reducing our dependence on foreign petrostates. It's about leading a green industrial revolution to pave the way to a better future through a new economy based on innovation, enterprise and dynamism.
Liz has what it takes to make this happen: a clear plan for our country and economy, truly Conservative principles and a positive vision for the future. We need someone with passion and determination who will govern in line with true Conservative values.
As a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, she will keep tight control of our national finances while also delivering the change on the economy that we need. She has shown, in striking dozens of post-Brexit trade deals, that she is the person who can make good on our departure from the European Union.
Her bold plan to get our economy growing is rooted in true blue Conservative principles. She would provide immediate help to people feeling the squeeze by reversing the National Insurance rise . Crucially, she believes in keeping the tax burden low, rather than the Government taking money only to then hand it back. She will prioritise economic growth.
Our party has long known that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. Trying to do so, as Winston Churchill declared, "is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle". We can only level up our country in a Conservative way by freeing businesses to go for growth and rewarding hard work, effort and aspiration, as Liz would do under her leadership.
Liz has shown time and time again her ability to be tenacious and tough in advancing British interests. As Foreign Secretary, she has toughened our stance on Russia and China. She would stand up for Britain, ensuring we lead on the world stage and deliver at home.
Liz was ahead of the pack as environment secretary, being the first to pledge to plant a million more trees across the UK. She also created the UK's largest national park, protecting the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District for generations to come.
This is the kind of leadership we need – focused on the future, clear in vision and resolute in delivery. We can only turn things around by uniting behind Liz and delivering a truly Conservative agenda. Division will only play into the hands of our opponents.
I know some of my colleagues are in two minds about the choice in this contest and that some are minded, like me, to come over and back Liz. I would say it is never too late to make the right decision and to join me in backing someone who has the courage of their convictions, a clear plan and is positive about what we can achieve.
Together, we can deliver on our promises to the British people, forging ahead to a freer and safer future for us all.
- Tory MPs fear Boris' late-night bust-up - the latest saga in his volatile love life - could hurt his chances of becoming Prime Minister
- Sam Gyimah joins Tory leadership race offering second referendum
- Tory leadership race: Hunt tells Johnson 'don't be a coward'
- Who's up and who's down among Tories hoping to replace May?
- Truss admits UK broke ban on Saudi arms sales three times
- 15 Indian-origin MPs in new UK Parliament
- 'I'm backing Boris Johnson... Nigel Farage must do the same': Former Labour MP Ian Austin claims Brexit Party leader must do his 'patriotic duty' and step away from election battle in order to STOP Jeremy Corbyn and avoid derailing Brexit
- John McDonnell reveals what's next for Labour if Jeremy Corbyn wins leadership contest
- Biggest win for Tories in 32 years as Britain backs Brexit, Boris
- Brexit: leave-backing MPs pile on pressure as May’s deal drifts away
- Labour leadership results 2016 recap: Jeremy Corbyn beats Owen Smith and vows to wipe slate clean
- Owen Smith to face Corbyn in Labour leadership challenge
- And Then There Were Five: Dominic Raab Eliminated From Tory Leadership Contest
- Brexit: What will happen if MPs reject Theresa May's deal?
- ‘My phone is melting’: Tory defectors buoyed by support
- Women voted for Jeremy Corbyn by a landslide in Labour leadership election, exit poll says
- Tory leadership hopefuls will be grilled by colleagues on breaking the Brexit deadlock
- Labour leadership Sky debate recap: Jeremy Corbyn faces Owen Smith for final time before crunch vote
- Owen Smith to challenge Corbyn for Labour leadership
- Emily Thornberry throws hat into ring for Labour leadership days after she was accused of calling Brexit voters ‘stupid’
First Tory MP switches support from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss in leadership race have 1626 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at August 9, 2022. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.