AN Oxfordshire MP has backed Rishi Sunak to become the next leader of the Conservative party.

John Howell, who represents Henley in the House of Commons, broke his silence this morning, saying he is supporting the former Chancellor in the leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson.

He said: “Both candidates for PM would do a fine job but I prefer Rishi. I am convinced that Rishi is the right person to lead the Conservative party into the next election.

“He is thoroughly competent, decent and hard working, he is exactly what the country needs.

“Rishi has the experience and the skills to do so and he will be receiving my full support.”


Mr Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are the final two candidates in the race.

They will clash on TV for a second time in 24 hours after the first head-to-head debate saw the two contenders to be the next prime minister tear strips off each other over their economic plans.

They will face each other again in a TalkTV/Sun event at 6pm tonight (July 26), with both sides hoping to learn tactical lessons from the BBC clash last night.

Yesterday night, Mr Sunak claimed there is “nothing Conservative” about Ms Truss’s approach to cutting taxes and pumping up borrowing, arguing it would give the party “absolutely no chance” of winning the next election.

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Ms Truss, in turn, suggested her rival would lead the country into a recession and criticised him for increasing taxes to the “highest rate in 70 years”.

A snap poll by Opinium, based on a sample of 1,032 voters, found 39 per cent believed Mr Sunak had performed best compared to 38 per cent for Ms Truss, but crucially Tory voters split 47 per cent to 38 per cent in favour of the Foreign Secretary.

Herald Series: A timetable of the contest. Credit: PAA timetable of the contest. Credit: PA

With postal ballots set to arrive on Tory members’ doorsteps by August 5, Mr Sunak needs good performances in the debates and the early hustings.

Opinion polls and member surveys have suggested that Mr Sunak trails Ms Truss in the battle to win the votes of card-carrying Conservatives, with the Foreign Secretary the bookmakers’ favourite to be elected as Tory leader on September 5.

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Ahead of yesterday’s debate, another Oxfordshire MP posted on Twitter showing their support to Mr Sunak.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis said: “Looking forward to watching BBC Our Next PM. Rishi Sunak will take the steps necessary to beat inflation and is best placed to win the next election.”


Wantage and Didcot MP David Johnston hasn’t chosen who to back since current Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who he first supported, was eliminated from the race.

Witney MP Robert Courts initially supported Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and later Kemi Badenoch, the MP for Saffron Walden, but has not backed either of the final two candidates.

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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