Liz Truss’ Tory leadership campaign has been accused of “smugness” after a Rishi Sunak backer suggested her leading supporters are already boasting about jobs in her cabinet.
In the latest bitter exchange between the two camps, Simon Hart said Truss should be “really nervous” about her team allegedly saying the contest is in “in the bag”.
Polls have indicated Truss is the clear frontrunner in the party leadership election, set to be announced in eight days’ time, which will decide the UK’s next prime minister.
It was put to Hart, appearing on Sky News on Sunday, that Truss will likely be the next PM.
Hart retorted that “every politician and sporting team in the world knows: never celebrate too early”.
“I just think, as I say, if I was in Liz Truss’s camp, I would be really nervous at the moment about my supporters going round saying ‘it’s in the bag and I’ve got a job in the cabinet’ and all that kind of stuff.
“I think it looks a bit smug. I think she would be worried about that.”
It comes as a majority of voters do not trust either Truss or Sunak to make the right decisions about improving the NHS, a lesser-discussed issue in the campaign amid the cost of living crisis debate.
Watch: Labour accuses Liz Truss of 'terrifying' NHS policies (from Wednesday)
A poll by YouGov for The Sunday Times found 64% of voters trusted neither candidate.
The survey also indicated voters’ faith in the health service is continuing to deteriorate as the UK faces a “public health emergency” caused by rising energy bills and staff shortages.
According to the research, 58% of respondents said they were not confident they would receive timely treatment from the NHS if they fell ill tomorrow. Almost half, 45%, believed the service had worsened in the past 12 months.
The latest NHS performance figures showed accident and emergency departments in England had one of their worst months in July, with record numbers of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted and the lowest proportion of people being seen within four hours.
The Royal College of Nursing is currently campaigning for a fully-funded pay rise of 5% above inflation - which is currently 11.8% - to combat years of wage stagnation and the cost-of-living crisis.
It says the current NHS staffing crisis is causing “unacceptable risk to patients and nursing staff”.