THE Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has slipped to third favourite with the bookmakers to win the Tory leadership race and become the next Prime Minister.

He’s now looking to have been too close for too long to Boris Johnson and, quite incredibly, is being labelled a “socialist chancellor” because of the state support he has dished out during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. This is incredible because his response to the cost of living crisis was initially condemned as not being enough – you will remember, he first offered people a loan to assist with their fuel bills that they were going to be paying back over five years – and it is incredible because most of North Yorkshire considered Mr Sunak to be a right-of-centre free marketeer and an early Brexit promoter. For him to now be considered on the left of the Conservative Party must mean that the other Tories have lurched a long way to the right.

Mr Sunak had a poor radio interview this week where he just wanted to put in his pre-rehearsed answers. He needs to find a way to be himself rather than a robotic Rishi.

Shrill Liz Truss is not winning many hearts, and struggled to find her way out of a room this week, but Penny Mordaunt does look good. She’s the only candidate who has spoken about the health service – although she hasn’t said a lot. She is untested, untried and unknown, and is a big gamble.

She did once, we believe, campaign on Teesside for Ben Houchen (Liz Truss also once shared an awkward parmo with him), but Mr Sunak really does know our area. Expect to see him campaigning locally, which no other candidate will do – we need all the friends in high places we can get.