Tory leadership race: who’s still standing, what are they promising and who’s backing them?

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The Guardian

If your head is reeling after the breathless psychodrama of the last few days, you are not alone. Yet, even before the black door of Downing Street had shut behind Boris Johnson, the contest for his successor was well under way.

By Monday night, the field had been narrowed down to four candidates. Let’s take a look at the remaining runners and riders:



Kemi Badenoch in 2018. Photograph: Russell Hart/Alamy

Best known for: Being a former levelling up and equalities minister, and standing at the vanguard of the “war on woke”.

The pitch: A rising star on the party’s right, a fresh face who is determined to slash the state, “focus on the essentials” and stop government from being “a piggy bank for pressure groups”.

Backers (as of Monday night): Badenoch received support from 58 MPs after the third round of voting and has received public support from Michael Gove, Lee Anderson and Ben Bradley.

Q&A

Who is backing Kemi Badenoch?

Show

  • Lee Rowley
  • Lee Anderson
  • Eddie Hughes
  • Julia Lopez
  • Tom Hunt
  • Ben Bradley
  • Justin Tomlinson
  • Gareth Bacon
  • Dr Caroline Johnson
  • Andrew Lewer
  • Neil O’Brien
  • Michael Gove
  • Leo Docherty
  • Alex Burghart
  • Lucy Allan
  • Nigel Mills
  • Marco Longhi
  • Sarah Dines
  • Rachel Maclean
  • Robert Courts
  • Tom Randall
  • Nick Fletcher
  • Steve Double
  • Adam Afriyie
  • Desmond Swayne
  • Sir John Hayes

Where do they stand on …

Tax and spending: With her pledge to introduce a micro-state, she has promised “lower taxes” – but says this is to boost growth and productivity, and would be accompanied by tight spending discipline.

Boris Johnson: A fierce defender when the government faced criticism over the controversial Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) report, she may have been disappointed to not see her star rise further in his government. While she argues Johnson had great success with Brexit and vaccines, he “came to embody” the feeling that things were not working.

Culture war: Long a lieutenant in the so-called war on woke despite her relatively short career, Badenoch argues that the UK is “falsely criticised as oppressive to minorities and immoral because it enforces its own borders”, and has not shied away from full-throated participation in the culture wars – in her most recent pitch comparing “identity politics” to coercive control.

Climate crisis: Badenoch has said she will look again at net zero targets, telling the Telegraph that it would hit people in the pockets to transition to a green economy. However, she has gained the support of Gove, who is thought to be one of the greenest Tories and impressed many environmentalists when he was at the helm of Defra. Perhaps he will have a word.


Penny Mordaunt leaves 10 Downing Street, November 2018. Photograph: Reuters/Alamy

Best known for: It should probably be becoming the UK’s first female defence secretary, if only for 85 days. Sadly, she’s better known for taking part in the ITV diving show Splash.

What’s their pitch: Fairly vague so far with a campaign video – pitched somewhere between a Hovis advert and Rugby World Cup taster – which is light on policy and, indeed, her presence.

Backers: 82 after the latest round, including Andrea Leadsom, Caroline Dinenage and Damian Collins.

Q&A

Who is backing Penny Mordaunt?

Show

  • John Lamont
  • Nicola Richards
  • Michael Fabricant
  • Andrea Leadsom
  • Kieran Mullan
  • Sir Charles Walker
  • Alicia Kearns
  • Craig Tracey
  • Harriet Baldwin
  • Damian Collins
  • James Gray
  • Elliot Colburn
  • Caroline Ansell
  • Robbie Moore
  • George Freeman
  • Derek Thomas
  • Maria Miller
  • Theo Clarke
  • Caroline Dinenage
  • Duncan Baker
  • James Sunderland
  • Sarah Atherton
  • Kate Griffiths
  • Bob Seely
  • David Davis
  • Bob Stewart
  • James Davies
  • John Baron
  • John Penrose
  • Alberto Costa
  • Caroline Nokes
  • Jerome Mayhew
  • Sir Mike Penning
  • Jill Mortimer
  • Trudy Harrison
  • Mims Davies
  • Luke Evans
  • Peter Aldous
  • Heather Wheeler
  • Tobias Ellwood
  • Jack Brereton
  • Gordon Henderson
  • Michelle Donelan
  • Antony Higginbotham
  • Jamie Wallis
Penny Mordaunt launches Conservative leadership campaign – video

Where do they stand on …

Tax and spending: The Portsmouth North MP has expressed her hope that “in the next few days we’ll be able to discuss how we get our economy growing again and enable our citizens to live well”, but is currently more preoccupied with fighting off critical questions about her views on gender.

Boris Johnson: Sacked as defence secretary by Johnson, her campaign video bizarrely features the former leader of the Conservative party joking: “Let’s get breakfast done.” Pitching to MPs who feel they have been sidelined and ignored during Johnson’s tenure, she said: “Our leadership has to change. It needs to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship.”

Culture war: A former equalities minister and now a trade minister, Mordaunt has – until now – been an outlier in her party and has publicly supported trans rights. But in a sign of how important so-called culture war issues could be in the contest to replace Johnson, Mordaunt tweeted to insist that opponents were trying to falsely portray her as “woke” before even releasing her initial campaign video.

Climate crisis: Though she has previously not really spoken out on climate issues, her backers say she supports net zero and climate action, and that she is due to make an intervention in coming days. She is backed by Alicia Kearns, an MP from the 2019 intake, who has been vocal on what green jobs can do for her constituency of Rutland and Melton.


Rishi Sunak leaves Millbank Studios in May 2022. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Best known for: Being a super-rich former chancellor who wears expensive flip-flops, and once gave us all a half-price Nando’s.

The pitch: A serious man for serious times, who won’t give MPs a tax cut just because they want them – and trying to remind us we used to love him.

Backers: 115 including Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Gavin Williamson and Grant Shapps.

Q&A

Who is backing Rishi Sunak?

Show

  • Mark Harper
  • Jacob Young
  • Angela Richardson
  • John Glen
  • Laura Trott
  • Mark Spencer
  • Claire Coutinho
  • Kevin Hollinrake
  • Paul Maynard
  • Robert Jenrick
  • Bob Neill
  • Liam Fox
  • Oliver Dowden
  • Mel Stride
  • Bim Afolami
  • Simon Jupp
  • Simon Hoare
  • Louie French
  • Andrew Murrison
  • Fay Jones
  • Peter Gibson
  • Helen Whately
  • Maria Caulfield
  • Craig Williams
  • Sir Robert Goodwill
  • James Cartlidge
  • Simon Hart
  • Gareth Davies
  • Siobhan Baillie
  • Rebecca Pow
  • Anthony Browne
  • Ruth Edwards
  • Greg Hands
  • Gary Streeter
  • Laura Farris
  • Andrew Bowie
  • Alex Chalk
  • Victoria Prentis
  • Grant Shapps
  • Dominic Raab
  • Gavin Williamson
  • Lucy Frazer
  • Gillian Keegan
  • Matt Hancock
  • James Wild
  • Mark Menzies
  • Steve Barclay
  • Chris Skidmore
  • Andrew Jones
  • Stephen Crabb
  • Alun Cairns
  • Simon Baynes
  • Michael Ellis
  • Theresa Villiers
  • Jeremy Quin
  • Nigel Huddleston
  • Jeremy Hunt
  • Will Quince
  • Richard Holden
  • Paul Howell
  • Richard Graham
  • Robert Buckland
  • Rob Halfon
  • Andrew Mitchell
  • Huw Merriman
  • Jonathan Djanogly
  • Steve Brine
  • David Rutley
  • Julie Marson
Ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak launches Tory leadership campaign – video

Where do they stand on …

Tax and spending: Sunak has indicated he will focus more on fiscal prudence than immediate tax cuts, with his video taking aim at other candidates who may offer “comforting fairytales” rather than face the hard economic reality.

In a field populated by other candidates promising cuts, that may become a challenge. Arch Johnson loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed Sunak since the contest began as “a high-tax chancellor”.

Boris Johnson: Sunak was a close ally of Johnson, and stuck with him throughout Partygate, but his resignation was seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back and launched a flurry of resignations. After this perceived treachery, the anyone-but-Rishi camp has gone on a war footing. One senior No 10 official was quoted in the Financial Times as calling Sunak “a treacherous bastard”, while a Johnson supporter in the cabinet told the paper: “Rishi will get everything he deserves for leading the charge in bringing down the prime minister.”

Culture war: For a former chancellor whose budget last October was criticised for devoting more time to alcohol duty than to policies on care, housing, climate or violence against women, Sunak’s insiders nonetheless found time to stress that he was committed to protecting women’s rights from “gender-neutral language” in a article in the Daily Mail. “Rishi believes in people’s freedom to choose how they live and who they love, but that women’s rights must be protected as well,” the source said.

Climate crisis: Insiders say Sunak was very resistant to spending money on climate measures when he helmed the Treasury. He has, however, previously spoken out in support of net zero and made the case for a greener economy. Green Tories fear he could be swayed by the supporters of the many rightwing candidates as they get knocked out during the contest, and look for a credible candidate to back.


Liz Truss gives a statement to the House of Commons in May 2022. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Reuters

Best known for: Being a hawkish foreign secretary, a pork markets obsessive with a hatred of disgraceful cheese imports.

The pitch: Told the Telegraph on Sunday: “It isn’t right to be putting up taxes now. I would reverse the national insurance increase that came in during April, make sure we keep corporation tax competitive so we can attract business and investment into Britain, and put the Covid debt on a longer-term footing.”

Backers: 71 including Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Q&A

Who is backing Liz Truss?

Show

  • Alec Shelbrooke
  • Dehenna Davison
  • Jackie Doyle-Price
  • Julian Knight
  • Rob Butler
  • Chloe Smith
  • Dean Russell
  • Marcus Fysh
  • Darren Henry
  • Ranil Jayawardena
  • Simon Clarke
  • Thérèse Coffey
  • Kwasi Kwarteng
  • Wendy Morton
  • Vicky Ford
  • James Cleverly
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Nadine Dorries
  • Mark Pritchard
  • Paul Bristow
  • Brendan Clarke-Smith
  • Chris Chope
  • Mark Francois
  • Iain Duncan Smith
  • Chris Loder
  • Kevin Foster
  • Laurence Robertson
  • Andrea Jenkyns
  • Mark Jenkinson
  • Ed Argar
  • James Heappey
  • Tom Pursglove
  • Suella Braverman
  • Steve Baker
  • Graham Stuar
  • Bill Cash
  • David Jones
  • Chris Philp
Liz Truss launches her Tory leadership campaign – video

Where do they stand on …

Tax and spending: Truss has been at pains to paint herself as an heir to Thatcher, with her allies stating that her economic pitch, rooted in “low-tax principles”, higher defence spending and trade deals would set her apart from other heavyweight contenders. She memorably hailed younger people as a generation of “Uber-riding, Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating freedom fighters”.

Boris Johnson: Seen as a Johnson loyalist, her allies nonetheless reportedly lobbied the frontbench to back her to replace him at the height of the Partygate scandal.

Culture war: Truss, who holds the equalities brief alongside being foreign secretary, has said people should not have the right to self-identify as a different gender without medical checks, adding that she believed it was “dehumanising to be treated as a woman, rather than a person”.

Climate crisis: Many have privately joked that it shows what a dire situation the contest is in when the main climate hope lies in libertarian Truss, who did not include climate commitments in many trade deals when she ran the trade department. However, she is backed by the energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, who is relatively strong on renewable energy, and another backer, Vicky Ford points out that she was very supportive of Cop26.


  • Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, dropped out on 12 July and pledged support to Rishi Sunak’s bid.

  • Sajid Javid, the former health secretary, dropped out on 12 July, though didn’t immediately endorse any other candidate

  • Rehman Chishti, a backbencher, pulled out on 12 July after failing to gain a single public endorsement.

  • Jeremy Hunt (18 votes) and Nadhim Zahawi (25) failed to reach the threshold of 30 votes in the first round of voting on 13 July and were knocked out of the contest.

  • Suella Braverman (27 votes, down five) was knocked out in the second round of voting on 14 July.

  • Tom Tugendhat (31 votes) was eliminated from the race in the third round of voting on 18 July.

July 19, 2022 at 01:27PM Alexandra Topping , Ben Quinn and Helena Horton

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