It didn’t take long! The race for Number 10 is already mired in business claims and money laundering… and guess which master of the dark arts is already dripping poison, writes GLEN OWEN

He is already called “the dirtiest”. Tori the leadership race in history’, with wild tales of prostitution, affairs and money laundering traded on the ‘dark web’ of Westminster gossip.

A member of one of the leading candidates’ campaign team is even said to have held a secret meeting with a Labor representative to pass on information about his rivals.

Bitterness all around Boris JohnsonThe surprise ouster has spilled over into the race to succeed him, with candidates whispering conspiratorially about the source of new Chancellor Nadhim Zahavi’s wealth and the already controversial wealth of his predecessor. Rishi Sunak.

The former Downing Street adviser is in typical form Dominic Cummings – who ran a long partisan campaign against Mr Johnson and is known to be hoping to return to government if Mr Sunak wins the contest – posted some wilder statements on Twitter, writing that it would be “very Westminster” for “Boris”. get a bullet for lying for sex/groping… only to be replaced by someone who actually fucks his paw!’

Former Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings, who ran a long partisan campaign against Johnson and is known to be hoping to return to government if Sunak wins the election, characteristically posted some wilder statements on Twitter.

“Spad” is Westminster’s abbreviation for special advisers who work for ministers. Mr Cummings said: β€œAt least 3 current candidates would be worse than Boris…at least 1 crazier than Truss, clearly unfit to be anywhere near nuclear codes…at least one shu* **”.

He then added: ‘Sorry, correction, the cabinet informed me that ‘at least 2 hooligans!’

The Mail on Sunday knows the identities of the candidates referred to by Mr Cummings and has been assured by them that they are “baseless smears”.

Another candidate was horrified to learn that a rival campaign team was spreading false rumors that they were allegedly using prostitutes, while a third was said to have been named in the divorce papers of a leading establishment figure.

But perhaps the most extraordinary claim is that an adviser to one of the leading contenders – this newspaper is not naming them – met a Labor official in a pub on the outskirts of Westminster last week to pass on gossip about his rivals in the hope that it would be passed on by friendly Labor newspapers in the so-called “fencing” operation.

The bitterness surrounding Boris Johnson's surprise ouster has crept into the race to succeed him, with candidates whispering conspiratorially about the source of new Chancellor Nadhim Zahavi's wealth and the already controversial fortunes of his predecessor Risha Sunak

The bitterness surrounding Boris Johnson’s surprise ouster has crept into the race to succeed him, with candidates whispering conspiratorially about the source of new Chancellor Nadhim Zahavi’s wealth and the already controversial fortunes of his predecessor Risha Sunak

Mr Sunak's early lead in the leadership contest comes just three months after his political career was effectively written off by many advisers following revelations that his multi-millionaire wife Akshata was claiming non-residence, allowing her to save millions of pounds on taxes

Mr Sunak’s early lead in the leadership contest comes just three months after his political career was effectively written off by many advisers following revelations that his multi-millionaire wife Akshata was claiming non-residence, allowing her to save millions of pounds on taxes

Mr Sunak’s early lead in the leadership contest comes just three months after his political career was effectively written off by many advisers following revelations that his multi-millionaire wife Akshata was claiming non-domiciled status, allowing her to save millions of pounds on taxes.

But the former chancellor’s approval ratings rebounded when Mr Johnson was mired in election losses and an indecency controversy, leading to a final crisis over Chris Pincher, who was involved in a “gross business”.

Mr Sunac’s Lazarus-like revival has sparked anger among Mr Johnson’s allies – who have denied the tax stories were leaked to damage the former chancellor – over his perceived “betrayal” of the prime minister.

Rival candidates are already planning to revive the tax issue on the grounds that it alienates working-class voters. They will also focus on questions being asked about why Mr Sunak held onto his US green card for more than 18 months after becoming chancellor. The card allows the holder to become a US citizen if he declares his intention to make America his permanent home and pay taxes there, and it has sometimes allowed him to circumvent strict US travel restrictions during the Covid pandemic.

Mr Sunak insisted he followed “all laws and regulations” and gave up his status after seeking advice on his first official trip to America.

Mr Zahavi, who entered the race yesterday, also faced questions about his wife’s tax status – he says she is non-resident – along with his fundraising work with the novelist Lord Archer in the 1990s and the millions he earned business from Kurdish oil.

Mr Zahavi’s attendance at the infamous Presidents Club dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel in 2018, where guests reportedly groped and sexually propositioned women working at the event, also drew backlash.

He was “dressed” by the main Tory leader for taking part in the event. Sources close to Mr. Sunak denied claims by rival camps that Mr. Cummings was working on his campaign.

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