Tory MPs are gearing up for an ugly fight for No. 10 as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss go to any length to become the next Prime Minister.
The leadership election is already regarded as one of the most contentious in Westminster history. Candidates vying to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative leader ripped chunks out of each other in the first round.
With Mr Sunak and Ms Truss in the final two, there are fears that the remaining weeks of the competition will be even more brutal.
A Conservative MP said: “They’ll have been holding things back. They’ll both have great big dossiers of kompromat ready to now be leaked.”
Senior parliamentarians are concerned that the election will harm the party’s image in the eyes of the public and give Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party a lift.
The candidates will spend the next month touring the UK, meeting with party members and campaigning for their votes.
Between the final two, the Tory party has announced 12 locations across the UK where public hustings will be held, the first of which will be in Leeds on July 28.
In the coming weeks, Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will travel to Cardiff, Perth, Northern Ireland, Manchester, and Birmingham before the final hustings in London on August 31. On September 5, the winner will be announced.
Both finalists have agreed to participate in television debates to make their case to the nation.
They’ll go at it on the BBC on Monday, July 25, and Sky News on Thursday, August 4.
A Sky debate was supposed to take place earlier this week, but the two finalists backed out to ease tensions.
Privately, the candidates’ campaigns believe that agreeing to participate in the ITV and Channel 4 debates was a mistake.
The upcoming BBC and Sky debate risks devolving into even more toxic mudslinging.