Lord Cruddas, a former Conservative party treasurer, has demanded the Tory leadership campaign is suspended following cyber-attack warnings by GCHQ. Postal votes were already delayed from reaching members, despite the deadline of 2 September staying in place. 

In a letter to Tory chiefs, seen by the Conservative Post, Lord Cruddas writes: “You cannot run the risk of a cyber-attack to affect the integrity and the outcome of the result.” He argues that the Conservative board should reject the Prime Minister’s resignation (though his “resignation speech” never contained the word resign). 

As a solution, Lord Cruddas backs members having a simple yes/no vote on accepting the PM’s resignation. Given a quarter of members favour Johnson on the ballot, and over 10,000 members signed a petition demanding this, the result could be unpredictable.

Lord Cruddas has promised to foot the cost of “Boris ballots’” and any subsequent leadership election. A long-standing Conservative party donor, he gave £500,000 three days after being appointed to the House of Lords. 

Despite his elevated position, there’s almost no chance that Cruddas will get his plan through. One MP hoping it might succeed is Rishi Sunak, who would welcome a delay. His campaign is stuck in the quicksand, and a longer campaign would offer time to boost his message, demonstrate competence and convince members he stood the best chance of beating Sir Keir Starmer. From a self-interested perspective, any delay would grant more time for his opponent, Liz Truss, to commit policy gaffes, like the public sector pay furore on Tuesday. 

Both candidates are facing Welsh Tories at hustings in Cardiff this evening. It’s the first time either candidate has visited Wales since the contest began. Sunak enjoys wider support among Welsh MPs than Truss, and will be hoping to solidify support among members. Barring the miraculous implementation of Lord Cruddas’ wacky idea, weeks of coaxing and persuasion are Sunak’s only hope.