DOMINIC Raab today blasted Boris Johnson as part of the “privileged elite” as the race to No10 turned brutal.
The former Brexit secretary questioned whether Bo-Jo, who won the Tory leadership election by a landslide, had the “mettle” for the top job.
Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt took a thinly-veiled swipe at Bo-Jo, she warned against picking a leader who will create “further division by just reinforcing factions in the party, Parliament or the country”.
In an article for the Daily Mail, she suggested the 54-year-old might “scare off” the majority of leaders.
It comes as senior Tories reportedly launched a desperate bid to derail Boris Johnson’s march to becoming Prime Minister.
The Brexiteer big beast won more than twice as many votes as nearest rival Jeremy Hunt – with Michael Gove and Dominic Raab trailing behind.
But Tory hopeful Raab poured scorn on the Brexiteer’s campaign – contrasting his background as a grammar school boy and the son of a refugee with ex-public school rivals like the Old Etonian Mr Johnson.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “When you campaign in marginal seats, who can reach out and unite the working class vote and the middle-class vote?” he said
“Are we going to be in a better position to do that with a candidate who isn’t so easily caricatured as being from the privileged elite, with the son of a refugee, a grammar school boy who is offering tax cuts to most of those people on £15,000 as opposed to people on £50,000 and above?”
Raab needs to add to his first round tally of 27 votes if he is to continue after the second round,
Timetable of Tory leadership election which will pick new PM
June 18: Second ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; any candidate with fewer than 33 votes eliminated
June 19: Third ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated
June 20: Fourth ballot (if needed), open 10am-12pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated – any further ballots needed will also take place on this day
June 22: Second stage begins where votes shift from MPs to party activists who will choose between final two candidates
July 22: Result announced this week, in time for Commons recess to begin
He also questioned Johnson’s reluctance to appear in the television debates.
Raab added: “Everyone is going to have to demonstrate that they have not just the vision but the nerve and mettle to deal with the EU and with a minority government.
“If you’re not up for the TV debates and the test that provides, people will argue it’s a barometer for what would happen if you get the job.
“If you can’t take the heat of the TV studios what chance of taking the heat of the negotiating chamber in Brussels?”
The six remaining candidates to succeed Theresa May are due to appear before a hustings on Saturday organised by the National Conservative Convention representing the party grassroots.
But Johnson has made it clear that he will not be taking part in the first TV debate on Channel 4 on Sunday.
It followed criticism that Boris has been seeking to avoid media scrutiny amid fears of throwing away a seemingly unassailable lead.
Raab also attacked his plan for a tax cut for people earning over £50,000 – contrasting it with his own proposal to help those on low income.
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Mr Johnson has managed to win over most of the Brexit-backing ERG group, with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Steve Baker and Mark Francois all backing him for leader.
But a senior Boris Johnson backer yesterday admitted he may have to delay Brexit by a few weeks.
A day after the frontrunner warned Britain risks Jeremy Corbyn in No10 if Brexit is delayed beyond October 31, the backer said it could slip.
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