Tom Tugendhat issues thinly-veiled swipe at Rishi Sunak: 'Security comes before spreadsheets'

Tom Tugendhat has committed to spending three percent of GDP on defence and security

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Tory leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat issued a thinly-veiled swipe at leadership rival Rishi Sunak as he pledged to increase defence spending.

Former Army officer Mr Tugendhat spoke out after Mr Sunak refused to give guarantees about increases in defence funding as a share of national income.

Mr Tugendhat has committed to spend three percent of gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy, on defence and security.

He said: “We will never put the safety of our country in doubt because of bean counters and spreadsheets.

Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat
Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

“Security always comes before spreadsheets.”

Asked if he was taking aim at Mr Sunak, he said: “I’m not going to name any names, it’s absolutely up to you to look quite hard at where people are talking about different things and see where people are putting their targets.”

Mr Tugendhat is one of eight candidates still in the race to become the next Tory Party leader following the resignation of Boris Johnson last week.

Mr Tugendhat, Mr Sunak, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman will all be on the ballot on Wednesday, after all secured the 20 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the contest.

Yesterday saw the field whittled down, with some high-profile casualties as the race to become Conservative leader intensifies.

Former health secretary Sajid Javid said he was pulling out having apparently failed to attract enough support, moments before chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, made the formal announcement in a Commons committee room.

Earlier, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that he was abandoning his bid and would be supporting Mr Sunak, the former chancellor.