THERE are now five Tory MPs left in the running to become the next Conservative leader and prime minister after the second ballot amongst the parliamentary party.

On Thursday morning, there were six MPs in the running after Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi lost out in the first round. That list has now been whittled down to five, with Brexiteer Suella Braverman eliminated after recieving only 27 votes - five fewer than the day prior.

Under the Tory leadership rules, any candidate who does not get 30 votes or who finishes last in a round of voting is eliminated from the contest.

The 1922 Committee chief Sir Graham Brady announced that 356 votes were cast.

The results were as follows:

Rishi Sunak - 101

Penny Mordaunt - 83

Liz Truss - 64

Kemi Badenoch - 49

Tom Tugendhat - 32

Suella Braverman - 27 (eliminated)

Braverman's policies had included taking the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights, and she was also concerned that too many people "rely" on benefits. Steve Baker had dropped out of the race to run her campaign. 

Braverman declined to say who she would back in the Tory leadership contest after she was eliminated – but chose to criticise Mordaunt, who gained the most votes with 16 more than her Wednesday total, over her views on gender.

The Attorney General told Sky News: “I’m going to have to disappoint you, I’m not going to give an answer right now. I’m considering all of the options.”

She indicated she would back the candidate who will “stop illegal migration across the Channel”, and deliver “Brexit opportunities”, a “tough line on identity politics” and tax cuts.

Braverman went on: “Penny is a very good politician, I disagree with Penny on some key issues, in relation to one specific matter, ie the maternity Bill that was passed for my benefit when I had my baby last year.

The National:

“I do have to say that Hansard and the record shows that Penny Mordaunt as the bill minister, the minister responsible for passing that legislation, did oppose and did resist the inclusion of the word woman and the word mother and did only concede after unsustainable pressure from the House of Lords.

“I was quite disappointed by the way in which it was handled and the responsible minister I’m afraid didn’t stand up for women and didn’t actually reflect the views of a lot of our party on wanting women to be authentically represented on the face of the bill and in legislation.”

Meanwhile Sunak, who remains the frontrunner in the contest, said he was “incredibly grateful” for the support of Tory MPs.

READ MORE: When and how to watch Tory leadership debates on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News

He tweeted: “I am incredibly grateful for the continued support from my colleagues and the wider public.

“I am prepared to give everything I have in service to our nation.

“Together we can restore trust, rebuild our economy and reunite the country.”

The National:

Despite dropping five votes since the first round and just marginally making the cut at 32 votes, Tugendhat said on Twitter that his campaign to be PM continues, stating "we need trust back in our politics" and that he will put his "vision for Britain" forward at next week's TV debates.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who has been highly critical of Sunak since he dramatically quit as chancellor in protest over Johnson's leadership, urged Tory MPs to get behind Truss.

“Now is the time for us all to unite behind a candidate who actually has the ability to lead the country as PM," she said.

“As foreign sec, she imposed the very toughest sanctions on Putin. That took serious ability and sheer grit.”

It has been a vicious day in the leadership contest, with Lord Frost starting the day by slamming bookies' favourite Mordaunt.

The National:

He took aim at the trade minister, who is currently the top pick among the membership, claiming she had not impressed him during the Brexit process.

“If you are a prime minister you have got to be able to take responsibility, you have got to be able to run the machine, you have got to be able to take tough decisions, deliver tough messages,” he told TalkTV.

“Anybody can be photo’d in a video with I Vow To Thee My Country, but it is what you do in practice. Are you able to be tough, are you able to lead, are you able to take responsibility?

“From the basis of what I saw, I’m afraid I would have grave reservations about that.”

Asked whether Brexit would be safe in Mordaunt’s hands, Lord Frost said: “I would worry, on the basis of what I have seen, we wouldn’t necessarily get that from Penny.”

Truss supporter Simon Clarke also took swipes at Tory rival Mordaunt.

“It is telling, I think, where current members of the Government are placing their support," he said.

“That is reflected in a number of very senior ministers’ decisions about who to support in this race – they are not backing Ms Mordaunt.”

Senior Tory MP David Davis, who is backing Mordaunt, criticised the “black ops” attacks being targeted at the candidate.

The National:

Asked about Lord Frost and Clarke's criticism by Sky News, the former Cabinet minister said: “I wouldn’t describe it as friendly fire.

“My comment when I saw it earlier was it’s absolutely clockwork – you get to the point that somebody gets ahead and looks to be the real challenger, and then the black op starts, the incoming fire starts.”

​Tory MPs will continue to vote in subsequent rounds until two candidates are left, who will then battle it out over the summer to win the support of Conservative members, with their choice of the next prime minister being unveiled on September 5.