Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said Boris Johnson was “removed by a coup” and that his ousting by Tory MPs was a “huge mistake”.
She added that she was “very disappointed” and thought it was a “huge mistake” for Mr Johnson to be ousted as prime minister.
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But other Conservative MPs disagreed with her use of the word “coup”, with Victoria Atkins telling Sky News: “I wouldn’t use language like that.
“I know Nadine has an exuberant range of language.”
And veteran Tory Sir Roger Gale tweeted: “Loyalty is a fine thing Nadine Dorries but Mr Johnson was not removed by ‘a coup’.
“He was forced to resign when too many of his ministers and backbenchers like myself made it plain that we were no longer prepared to tolerate his casual relationship with the truth.”
North Dorset MP Simon Hoare said he thinks “coup” should be “reserved for the actions of military juntas, dictators, and the like”.
He added: “The democratic workings of a party and parliament are not coups, and it’s plain stupid to even hint otherwise. As I’ve said before: it was, unfortunately, suicide, not homicide.”
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Ms Dorries also said Mr Johnson is not supporting a campaign to get his name put on the leadership ballot going out to Tory members.
She said Mr Johnson told her “tell them to stop, it’s not right”.
The culture secretary added that she is supporting Ms Truss because she has “both integrity and loyalty and is able to pick up the baton” and “hit the ground running” as PM.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak are going head-to-head in front of Tory members for the first time today as an intense summer of hustings begins.
A new YouGov poll of swing voters suggests Mr Sunak has a significant edge over his rival, although both candidates suffer from “considerable” unpopularity with the public as a whole.
Tax and spending are likely to be key points of contention, with identity politics, immigration, Brexit, climate change, the NHS, and defence highly likely to be up for debate.
Mr Sunak will seek to regain his footing after he was accused of U-turning after he pledged to temporarily slash VAT on energy bills despite accusing Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plans of being “comforting fairy tales”.
Ms Truss told members in Leeds, ahead of the hustings, that the taxes she is cutting “are affordable within our budget”.
“What I believe is we need to keep taxes low to attract investment into industries,” she said.
“We need to turbocharge investment into the North of England, bringing more businesses and opportunities.
“The best way to do that is to keep taxes low and attract that investment into our great towns and cities, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
She also said she is “completely committed” to her plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail and would fix the Treasury’s funding formula to make sure the north of England gets a “fairer share” of resources.
Mr Sunak released a video clip showing him campaigning in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Suffolk on Wednesday.
He told his followers: “We have been talking about everything on people’s minds, tackling the cost of living, how we realise the benefits of Brexit.”
The former chancellor last night announced plans to make “downblousing” a criminal offence as part of a major crackdown on sex offenders.
And Ms Truss also promised to introduce a standalone offence to criminalise street harassment and a national domestic abuse register.
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