Rishi Sunak has narrowed the gap with Liz Truss in the Conservative party’s leadership race, with the Foreign Secretary just five points ahead in the latest poll of members.
The former chancellor’s campaign team has emphasized in recent days that they found a much tighter race on the ground than the most recent YouGov poll suggested two weeks ago, giving Truss a 24-point lead.
The latest poll was conducted by Techne for a private client, but data tables have been released for the poll of 807 Conservative members.
It comes after days of renewed momentum for Truss with a string of high-profile endorsements, including Penny Mordaunt – a sign that ambitious ministers saw the race as screwed.
Mordaunt, who was defeated by Truss as a challenger to Sunak in the final stage of the leadership match, said Truss was “the hopeful candidate”.
The approval came as a blow to Sunak after a bitter campaign in which supporters of Mordaunt blamed Truss for a damaging “blue-on-blue dogfight”.
Mordaunt was the latest in a number of new backers for Truss, including former leadership candidates Nadhim Zahawi and Tom Tugendhat, as well as ex-minister Brandon Lewis and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.
The latest poll also includes significant positive numbers for Truss, suggesting that her tax policy is far more popular than Sunak’s, although it was conducted before his announcement of further tax cuts in the next parliament. She was highly rated by 62% of the members compared to Sunak’s 30%. But Sunak maintained a lead over Truss on Brexit, trusted by 50% versus 41%.
Polling expert Sir John Curtice said on Tuesday he did not believe the race was over. “We have to keep in mind that since Tory MPs decided that this was the match between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, we’ve had one, I repeat one, poll of the people who will actually vote, which is Conservative members. But that poll is now almost 14 days old,” he told GB News.
Another Sunday Telegraph poll of Conservative councilors also suggested the race is tightening, with Truss at 31%, Sunak 29% and over 30% saying they didn’t know.