There were allegations of ‘dirty tricks’ on Tuesday as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – a staunch supporter of Boris Johnson – pointed the finger at Mr Sunak’s campaign team, whose resignation last week helped bring down Mr Johnson.
Ms Dorries has shared claims online that Sunak’s camp has lent votes to Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary who is seeking leadership, saying it amounts to ‘tailoring’ and ‘arts black”.
“Team Rishi want the contestant they know they can definitely beat in the bottom two and that’s Jeremy Hunt,” she wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Sunak’s team and Mr. Hunt have denied this claim. Mr Hunt said: ‘We run completely independent campaigns.
The public exchange of allegations reflected a rancorous mood on the Tory benches as the battle to choose a successor to Mr Johnson intensifies.
Mr Sunak, who has the backing of more declared MPs than any rival, won endorsements from Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Mr Shapps, both attending his official campaign launch on Tuesday .
Meanwhile Liz Truss, whose team is trying to pitch her as the most viable ‘stop Rishi’ candidate, has won the backing of Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg and Ms Dorries, who both have announced their support for Downing Street.
Ms Patel, who did not launch a leadership bid after hesitating, and Mr Javid, who held a formal launch event on Monday, have not yet said who they will support from now on. Their support will certainly be strongly requested by the remaining candidates.