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Bitter Tory infighting continues amid ‘bent’ race to replace Rishi Sunak as leader

JAMES CLEVERLY called for a “post mortem” into the Tory election rout as “bitter infighting” over replacing Rishi Sunak as leader continued today.

The shadow home secretary’s comments came as an MP accused the committee that sets the rules for the leadership contest of being “bent.”

Suella Braverman also called Reform an “existential threat” to the party and Kemi Badenoch reportedly used Mr Sunak’s first shadow cabinet meeting to criticise his campaign and Ms Braverman.

Tory MPs usually vote to select the top two candidates to put forward as potential leaders, with the party membership choosing the ultimate winner.

However, the rules and timeline of the race would be set out by the backbench 1922 Committee, which has elected Bob Blackman as its new chair.

Tory MP Mark Francois said the vote to choose the new chair was “bent” after he attempted to vote but was turned away.

Mr Cleverly wrote in the Times today that the party needs to conduct a “sensible post mortem on what went wrong and finding the right path forwards.

“As we do this we must remember two vital things. Firstly, it cannot descend into bitter infighting and finger pointing. That is exactly how we ended up here.”

Mr Sunak announced he would step down as party leader once the formal arrangements for choosing a successor are in place.

If he throws his hat in the ring, Mr Cleverly could face competition from high-profile rightwingers Ms Braverman and Ms Badenoch.

Dame Priti Patel, who served as home secretary between July 2019 and September 2022, Robert Jenrick, who previously served as immigration minister and ex-health secretary Victoria Atkins could also put themselves forward.

Former Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has ruled out running.

Shadow science minister Andrew Griffith said on Tuesday it is likely to take “months” before the Conservatives find a new leader.

He told Sky News: “Probably months, not years.

“With only 121 Conservative Members of Parliament, most party members are not represented at the moment by their own Member of Parliament and so it’s important that we have a very inclusive process that does speak to all of the membership.”

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