Liz Truss skirts questions on Downing Street parties
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, the pollster said that Liz Truss’ previous record of voting to remain in the European Union “no longer seems to be being held against her”. This is because, he said, the Foreign Secretary has “embraced Brexit with the zeal of a convert”. As Foreign Secretary, Ms Truss has been seen as a champion of post-Brexit Britain, most recently demonstrated by her breakthrough trade deal with Australia signed earlier in January.
In December, she also took over Lord Frost’s brief as Brexit Minister and has since been leading the negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Despite her choice to back the Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum, more recent developments in her career mean that “the story has moved on for Liz Truss”, Sir John said.
However, the pollster said that the situation was not so positive for fellow leadership rival and Remainer Jeremy Hunt, who Sir John said has not necessarily “been forgiven”.
His comments about the leadership candidates come as Mr Johnson is facing increasing calls to resign over the “Partygate” scandal.
A Conservative Home poll of 1,041 Tory party members, conducted on January 15, saw 53.4 percent of them say the Prime Minister should resign.
Meanwhile, numerous prominent Tory MPs, including Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross and former Brexit Minister David Davis, have also publicly called for Mr Johnson’s resignation.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray, who has been leading an internal investigation into the allegations of rule-breaking, finally handed her report over to Downing Street this afternoon.
Many Conservative MPs have been waiting to decide whether or not they think Mr Johnson should be allowed to stay in his post until after the report’s publication.
A total of 54 no-confidence letters – representing 15 percent of Tory MPs – are required to be submitted to the Conservative 1922 Committee in order to trigger a no-confidence vote.
It is currently unknown how many of these letters have already been sent but earlier in January the Mirror reported 35 MPs have privately submitted such letters.
Speaking about the potential candidates in a leadership race, Sir John told Express.co.uk: “Liz Truss voted remain, but she has now embraced Brexit with the zeal of a convert.
“And to that extent at least, that no longer seems to be being held against her.
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“Whereas in the case of Jeremy Hunt, it is not so clear that he has been forgiven.
“The story has moved on for Liz Truss.
He added: “Sunak voted leave. Truss is a convert.
“And there aren’t that many Tory MPs left who voted remain.
“There isn’t much of a mood in the Conservative party to change tack on Brexit or go for a softer trade agreement.”
However, speaking about who he thinks is most likely to win a leadership race, Sir John pegged Rishi Suank as the favourite.
He said: “Sunak is now ahead in the polls.
“Sunak is the best known of the cabinet.
“He is also immensely popular amongst the wider public.
“Personally popularity isn’t everything, but he certainly has the personal popularity that the PM is currently certainly lacking.”
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