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by Joseph Anderson
16 August 2022
Scottish Tories split on leadership election

Scottish Tories split on leadership election

Scottish Conservative MSPs are split on who to back to succeed Boris Johnson ahead of a crunch hustings in Perth this evening.

Liz Truss is a nose ahead, however, following a public backing from nine Holyrood colleagues earlier this month, eclipsing Rishi Sunak’s seven Scottish Tory backers.

In an open letter, the foreign secretary was described as a “heartfelt Unionist” by Scottish Conservatives Finlay Carson, Sharon Dowey, Murdo Fraser, Rachael Hamilton, Liam Kerr, Stephen Kerr, Douglas Lumsden, Oliver Mundell and Graham Simpson.

Fraser told Holyrood: “I’m backing Liz Truss. She has demonstrated in government her commitment to Scotland and has an excellent track record of engagement here, and is committed to expanding the powers of MSPs to better hold this failing SNP administration to account. 

“Consistent opinion polling shows that she is the candidate better placed to defeat Keir Starmer at the next general election.”

Meanwhile, Donald Cameron, Maurice Golden, Jeremy Balfour, Dean Lockhart, Miles Briggs and Liz Smith are supporting Sunak, with the latter telling Holyrood: “I am voting for Sunak as l think his economic policies, especially those to enhance productivity and growth and prevent increasing national debt, are based on the sound money approach which l support.”

Sunak also has the edge among Westminster politicians, at least publicly. Out of the six Scottish Conservative MPs, Andrew Bowie and John Lamont are backing Sunak, with the other four staying silent.

Among them is Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who is both an MP and an MSP, and who has declined to publicly back either candidate, instead insisting he will “work with whoever emerges victorious”.

Other MSPs have told Holyrood the hustings in Perth tonight will inform their final decision, with just less than half of Tory MSPs not yet saying who they will be supporting.

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