NICOLA Sturgeon has hit out at the “japes” in the battle for the Tory leadership following the news that one candidate has hijacked another’s slogan.

Penny Mordaunt, a favourite among the Tory party membership, has registered the domain name, causing it to redirect to her campaign website

NZ4PM is the tag being used by new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi in his bid for the keys to No 10.

The National:

ITV’s Robert Peston tweeted: “Nadhim Zahawi is using NZ4PM as his leadership election tag. If you click on you are redirected to Penny Mordaunt’s leadership homepage.”

“Comedy gold. You gotta love this contest,” he added.

The First Minister criticised the “japes” in the race to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader, suggesting the UK was facing more serious issues.

She wrote on Twitter: “What japes. Meanwhile, in the real world, people are struggling to feed their kids … and the UK Government with the power and resources to act is utterly paralysed.”

Johnson has insisted he will remain in post until a new Tory leader is chosen, which could be as late as September 5. He will not be expected to take any big policy decisions in the interim period.

The contest to replace Johnson has been whittled down to eight candidates after three failed to win the 20 endorsements required to enter the second round.

A vote will be held on Wednesday, with any Tory leadership hopefuls who fail to garner 30 supporters forced to drop out of the race.

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, is the frontrunner in terms of declared support from MPs.