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Tory leadership race: Former West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham backs Liz Truss to be next prime minister

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A former West Norfolk MP has revealed he is supporting his former colleague in the race to become the next Conservative Party leader.

Lord Bellingham of Congham, who as Sir Henry Bellingham was North West Norfolk MP for more than 30 years, told the Lynn News he will be backing South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss to take on the role of the country’s next prime minister.

Sir Henry, who stepped down in 2019, said he was 'convinced' that Ms Truss 'has exactly what it needs to become our next PM', having worked alongside her in West Norfolk for almost a decade.

Liz Truss and Sir Henry Bellingham
Liz Truss and Sir Henry Bellingham

"I discovered very quickly that, among her formidable set of skills, is the rare ability to hone in on a problem with laser-like efficiency, analyse and assess the options, and then come up with the answers," he said.

Sir Henry added: "Of course, many of these qualities have already been very much to the fore during her time as International Trade Secretary, and now as Foreign Secretary standing up to President Putin, but she has something else as well, namely integrity.

"Indeed, the reason why we are having this leadership election is because the current PM ran out of integrity, and lost the trust of the public. Liz is by far the best person to restore the situation.

Sir Henry Bellingham, former North West Norfolk MP, and Liz Truss, South West Norfolk MP
Sir Henry Bellingham, former North West Norfolk MP, and Liz Truss, South West Norfolk MP

"For all these reasons I am backing her 100 per cent."

Elsewhere in Norfolk, only Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has publicly declared she is supporting Ms Truss.

The man who took over from Sir Henry as MP for North West Norfolk, James Wild, has made no secret of the fact that he is backing Ms Truss' opponent Rishi Sunak.

In a column for the Lynn News earlier this month, Mr Wild said: "He has the values - hard work, patriotism, fairness, family, pragmatism - experience, and ideas to restore trust and to take our country forward at this crucial time."

Three other Norfolk Conservative MPs are keeping tight-lipped about who they are supporting to be the next prime minister.

Brandon Lewis, Duncan Baker and Jerome Mayhew have yet to declare who they will support in the leadership vote.

Mr Baker, MP for North Norfolk, had backed leadership candidate and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who was eliminated from the race last week.

The North Norfolk MP said he was not declaring who he was supporting at this stage.

For now, he said he would be listening to the candidates and taking the views of North Norfolk Conservative members.

He added: “What started as a race based on personality is now based on policy.

“I will be looking at what will be best for north Norfolk.”

The two-way battle between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for the leadership of the Conservative Party is under way
The two-way battle between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for the leadership of the Conservative Party is under way

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, echoed Mr Baker’s comments, saying there were “two strong candidates” and he was looking forward to seeing how the hustings develop over the summer.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis did not respond when contacted.

Richard Bacon, George Freeman and Peter Aldous have all declared they will be supporting Mr Sunak.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman initially said he would not be revealing his preference following the elimination of his preferred candidate, Penny Mordaunt.

However last Friday he shifted his support behind Mr Sunak.

Mr Bacon, the South Norfolk MP revealed his choice of candidate in a tweet on Friday – his first since June 2021.

Following a TV debate on Monday, Conservative votes said Ms Truss had performed better – 47 per cent v 38 per cent for Mr Sunak – according to polling by Opinium.

Ms Truss has been a Norfolk MP since 2010.

If she succeeds in the race she would be the second Norfolk-based Prime Minister after Robert Walpole in 1721.

While Mr Walpole was born in Norfolk, Ms Truss was born in Oxfordshire.

Reporting by Rebekah Chilvers and George Thompson, Local Democracy Reporter

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