A warning of cyber attacks has led to a delay in voting by Conservative members for the next prime minister, it is reported.
Intelligence from the UK’s security services at GCHQ suggests that people’s ballots could be altered through online interference.
Postal ballots have still yet to be issued to the around 160,000 party members who will pick a successor to Boris Johnson, as a result of the GCHQ concerns.
The ballots were due to be sent out from Monday, but members have now been warned they could arrive as late as August 11, reported the Telegraph.
It is believed that the the danger of a cyber attack is not being posed specifically by another country or opponent but it is more general advice over the vulnerabilities of the voting process.
Allegations have been made before of other countries including Russia and China being involved in trying to manipulate opinion polls and elections, including the 2020 US presidential elections.
“Defending UK democratic and electoral processes is a priority for the NCSC, and we work closely with all parliamentary political parties, local authorities and MPs to provide cyber security guidance and support,” a National Cyber Security Centre spokesman told the Telegraph.
“As you would expect from the UK’s national cyber security authority, we provided advice to the Conservative Party on security considerations for online leadership voting.”
Tory members have received messages telling them that there is a delay in the voting due to security concerns – which were not outlined.
It reportedly read: “Your ballot is now on the way – but it will arrive with you a little later than we originally said. Please do not worry. This is because we have taken some time to add some additional security to our ballot process, which has delayed us slightly.”
It shows 60% of the party members polled between July 29 and August 2 say they intend to vote for Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, up from 49% in the period July 20 to 21, which was immediately after the final two were announced.
Support for Mr Sunak, the former chancellor, has dropped in the poll, from 31% to 26% over the same period. And the rest of the 1,043 Conservative party members polled say they are undecided or will not vote.
In a further blow for Mr Sunak, 83% of those who currently say they intend to vote for Ms Truss also say they have made up their mind, while just 17% say they might still change their mind, and 29% of Mr Sunak’s supporters say they might still vote differently, according to YouGov.
The Mirror has contacted the National Cyber Security Centre for comment.