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All The Conservative MPs Through To The First Round Of Voting In The Leadership Race


9 min read

The race is on to find a replacement for Boris Johnson after he pledged to step down earlier this week — here are all the Conservative MPs who have made it to the first round of voting, and what their bid is to win support.

Rishi Sunak

Under the slogan "Ready for Rishi", former chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he was running to become his party’s next leader on Friday. 

In a slick campaign video, he claimed that he was a “serious candidate for serious times”. He hinted that he would not make significant changes to current government spending, claiming that the country is facing “serious challenges” which it needed to tackle with “honesty, seriousness and determination”.

His backers so far include Commons leader Mark Spencer, former party chairman Oliver Dowden, former chief whip Mark Harper.

Announcing his resignation just minutes after Sajid Javid on Tuesday, Sunak was integral to triggering the swathe of resignations that forced Boris Johnson to step down. 

Liz Truss

Foreign secretary Liz Truss is expected to formally launch her leadership bid on Sunday, having already received a number of high-profile backers.

Announcing his support for her in The Telegraph, chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said Truss would “cut taxes and review all government spending” as Prime Minister under a “fundamentally Conservative agenda”.

Other people backing Truss include work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey, culture select committee chair Julian Knight and Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith.

Jeremy Hunt

The health select committee chair — who has previously served as health, foreign and culture secretary — confirmed his bid in The Sunday Telegraph. He had previously hinted about his ambitions to run in an interview with The House magazine in January, when he claimed his ambition hasn’t completely vanished”.

He suggested he could “restore voters’ trust” as one of the only serious candidates who had not served in Boris Johnson’s government and has pledged to significantly cut taxes, drawing a distinction between him and Sunak, who has been responsible for recent tax rises as Chancellor. 

He also told the BBC One’s Sunday Morning show he would make Esther McVey his deputy, in a bid to broaden his support base in the party.

His backers so far include Philip Dunne, Andrew Mitchell, Crispin Blunt and Peter Bottomley.

Penny Mordaunt

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt announced she was running on Sunday morning with a fresh campaign video filled with patriotic imagery, that was light on appearances from Mordaunt herself. 

She said that “leadership has to change” and “become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship”. Mordaunt also posted a series of tweets defending her position on trans rights, following criticism from some corners of the party over her past comments claiming trans women are women.

Backers so far for the staunchly pro-Brexit former cabinet minister include former ministers Andrea Leadsom and Maria Miller, and 1922 Committee veteran Sir Charles Walker.

Tom Tugendhat

Foreign affairs select committee chairman Tom Tugendhat is the only leading candidate who has not served as a minister.

Tugendhat aims to appeal to a broad spectrum of the party, rather than aligning himself with a particular faction. 

"My view is clear – the Conservative Party must be a broad church that anyone can find their home in, whether young or old, northern or southern, renter or owner," he wrote in an editorial launching his bid in The Telegraph

"We must show leadership and conviction on our Conservative values and their ability to enrich lives across every part of the country. If we cannot then we are nothing."

The former soldier suggested back in January that he would run if a leadership contest were to be triggered.

His bid was confirmed late last week by former minister Damian Green this week, who told Sky News: “You can take it that Tom is going to run.” Green is an influential member of the One Nation group of Conservative MPs, whose support is considered to be highly important to winning a contest.

Tugendhat's backers also include international trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, former minister Stephen Hammond and 2019-intake MP Aaron Bell.

Tugendhat recently raised his public profile in the party when he was highly critical of the government's handling of the Afghanistan crisis. 

Suella Braverman

The attorney general announced her plans to run in a broadcast interview with ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday evening, before Boris Johnson has announced his intention to step down.

"If there is a leadership contest, I will put my name into the ring," she said, having already called for Boris Johnson to resign. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, she said her government would “move heaven and earth to get us back on track”.

Her backers so far include Steve Baker, who announced his support for her after ruling out his own bid, and Sir Desmond Swayne.

Nadhim Zahawi

The newly-appointed Chancellor and former education secretary launched his campaign on Saturday. Like Hunt and Javid, he has said that he would fight for lower taxes and continue with education reforms that he started in his previous role.

He said his aim as Prime Minister would be “to steady the ship and to stabilise the economy”.

His backers so far include former Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis and his short-lived successor as education secretary Michelle Donelan.

Kemi Badenoch

Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch announced she was running in The Times on Saturday, claiming she wanted a limited government and to "tell the truth".

She said that "without change the Conservative Party, Britain and the Western world will continue to drift", adding that the nation needs a "strong but limited government focused on the essentials".

Her backers include 2019 and 2017 intake “Red Wall” MPs Lee Anderson, Ben Bradley and Tom Hunt.

Out of the race

Sajid Javid

The former health secretary also announced his bid in The Sunday Telegraph with a pledge to cut taxes, and was openly critical of Rishi Sunak’s tenure as chancellor.

"I'm not sure I would have done it if I had been chancellor, but I was focused on my job and I'm not trying to do other people's jobs for them," he said. 

The former chancellor's economic plan includes bringing forward the planned 1p income tax cut to next year, and a further temporary cut to fuel duty.

Javid was the first cabinet minister to publicly renounce Boris Johnson with his resignation as health secretary last week. He took on the position last summer after Matt Hancock was forced to step down over breaking Covid regulations.

At his campaign launch on Monday, Javid warned that the Conservative party would suffer a 1997-style defeat at the next election unless the party changed its "trajectory".

He dropped out of the race shortly before nominations closed on Tuesday evening, claiming that looked "forward to seeing the debate unfold and to see colleagues working together as a united Conservative Party".

Grant Shapps

The transport secretary announced his bid on Saturday, claiming as Prime Minister he wanted to make the UK economy the biggest in Europe by 2050. Launching is campaign in The Sunday Times, he also pledged to tackle rising inflation, but added the state should "get out of the way" in some areas. On Tuesday, he pulled out of the race and endorsed Rishi Sunak.

Priti Patel

The Home Secretary, who was widely expected to launch her own leadership bid after winning the backing of several Tory MPs, announced she had made the decision not to run just hours before nominations closed.

In a statement, the senior Conservative said she was "grateful for the encouragement and support" adding: "As Home Secretary I have always put the security and safety of our country first and my focus is to continue working to get more police on our streets, support our amazing security services to keep our country safe and control our borders".

She said she would be "listening to cases being put forward" and called for the constest to be conducted in a "good spirit that brings our Party together".

Ben Wallace

Bookies favourite Ben Wallace, the defence secretary who has recently led Conservative membership polls on popularity, announced he would not be running for leader on Friday. He said that he wanted to focus on his current role as defence secretary.

Boris Johnson

A spokesperson for the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he won’t step down in order to run in the race himself after it was briefly rumoured on Saturday that he intended to do so. It would be against party rules for Johnson to run. 

Justice secretary Dominic Raab and former levelling up secretary Michael Gove have also both ruled themselves out of the race.

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