The Wales secretary, Sir Robert Buckland, has become the first cabinet minister to publicly switch their endorsement for the Tory leadership from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss.
Writing for the Telegraph, Buckland cited Truss’s emphasis on the economy as a major reason for his defection.
He wrote: “I know both candidates well and have worked with them in government and in cabinet.
“I have looked at ideas and principles first, and personalities second. During the parliamentary rounds, I backed Rishi Sunak as I felt that he was at that stage embodying what we needed.
“As the campaign has moved on, and as I have listened carefully to both candidates, I have thought deeply about the issues that move me and what I want to see the next prime minister doing. Changing your mind on an issue like this is not an easy thing to do, but I have decided that Liz Truss is the right person to take our country forward.”
While he’d said in a video message posted on 14 July that Sunak’s “clear thinking” was what would help “get through these challenging economic times”, Buckland now hails Truss’s economic management in his recent statement.
He said: “Liz understands the need to make supply side reforms, unlocking the private sector that powers our economic growth through investment and providing high-skilled jobs.
“Her plans give us our best shot at reaching our potential with the high-growth, high-productivity economy that we need not only to get us out of this crisis but to protect ourselves from the next.”
The former lord chancellor also highlighted Truss’s commitment to a British bill of rights – which would override the power of Europe’s human rights courts – after Strasbourg blocked the deportation of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda in June.
“We as Conservative party members face a choice that is so much bigger than all of us. It is about the country now, about the security and prosperity of our friends, families and neighbours,” Buckland concludes.
“It is time for positive politics, time to come together, and time for Liz to lead.”
Buckland becomes the second Tory MP to publicly switch support from Sunak to Truss, following Chris Skidmore, who accused Sunak of repeatedly changing his position on key policy issues.
Truss, who many Tory MPs believe to be favourite to become the next prime minister, is consistently ahead in Tory membership polls, which will close in early September.