Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who is backing fellow Norfolk MP Liz Truss to be the new Conservative leader, has said a Truss premiership would be a boost for the county.

“I think it will be excellent for Norfolk to have the next prime minister," said Ms Smith, speaking at a summit of the region's business leaders.

“Being a Norfolk colleague and a friend of Elizabeth, I’ve seen what’s she’s able to do.

“I’ve seen the success she was able to have by leading the 'Make it Marham' campaign with the Eastern Daily Press, but I’ve also seen her do that on the national stage, and she is without doubt the most experienced candidate in this contest who has the ability to deliver.”

Eastern Daily Press: Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich NorthChloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North (Image: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service)

Asked why no other Norfolk MPs were currently supporting Ms Truss, Ms Smith said it was “a positive thing that there is a debate”.

“The extent of the debate is a good thing and it shows the importance of the ideas and the opportunities that still need to be delivered, to be able to repay people’s trust that they put in the Conservatives in 2019, and in the manifesto.”

Ms Truss has told Tory MPs she would be “prepared” to pull the UK out of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) as a last resort if the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda encounters opposition from the Strasbourg court.

Taking the UK out of the ECHR was not in the Conservatives’ manifesto - and would put the UK in the company of Russia, which is the only signatory to the convention to have so far withdrawn from it.

Eastern Daily Press: Elizabeth Truss at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and prime ministerElizabeth Truss at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and prime minister (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Asked whether she was comfortable with the pledge, Ms Smith said: “Again, I think there’s a range of debate on this point. She’s speaking for herself.”

Pressed on whether she herself had a view on it, Ms Smith said: “The point is that we can also achieve that [the protection of human rights] through our own domestic legislation.

“That’s part of the idea being put forward to have a bill of rights of our own, these things don’t need to be guaranteed only by international legislation.

“But I haven’t anything further to add to what Liz has already said on that.”