UK must support Ukraine against Russia, says Tom Tugendhat
BBC News

As Boris Johnson faces mounting pressure to stand down as prime minister, conversations continue over who may be poised to take over from the scandal-struck politician.

Tom Tugendhat, who represents Tonbridge and Malling, has become the first Conservative to publicly declare his interest in standing to be the next prime minister, telling Times Radio’s Tom Newton-Dunn it would be “a huge privilege”.

He added: “It’s one of those questions that I know many people ask and some of my colleagues are coy about, and I don’t understand why. I don’t think you should be embarrassed to want to serve your country.”

You may think the likes of Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Jeremy Hunt are definitely running for the top job, but at this stage, only Tom has been brave enough to publicly throw his Tugend-hat in the ring.

Sorry.

So who is this backbencher hoping to rise to the highest office? We’ve got the lowdown on the politician’s political career to date.

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Before being elected in May 2015, Mr Tugendhat had a lengthy career in the army. He set up the Armed Forces Muslim Association and served in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Territorial Army officer.

For his work serving with the Royal Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, he was made an MBE. According to his official website, he helped to establish the National Security Council of Afghanistan and “the first non-warlord” administration in Helmand since the Soviet Union invaded.

He remains a reserve officer.

Yet to take up a position in government, Mr Tugendhat has instead spent most of his time on committees. He was previously on ones for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, Works of Art (we don’t know why either) and National Security Strategy.

As of 2020, though, he’s chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, and still sits on the Liaison Committee (because of his Foreign Affairs role) and National Security Strategy joint committee.

And when he’s not chairing committees, he’s having a good time on the dancefloor – apparently.

At last year’s Conservative Party Conference, he teamed up with known dance diva Michael Gove to bust some moves, in footage which went viral at the time.

You can also get an idea of what he’s like from his recent votes. He voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum, and on more current issues, he was one of the 98 Tory rebels to vote against the government’s plan for vaccine passes to enter venues such as nightclubs in December.

He also voted against feeding children free school meals over the holidays late last year. So there’s that.

Then, when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, Mr Tugendhat – who, don’t forget, served in the country as a veteran – delivered a speech in the Commons which received rare applause from colleagues.

He said at the time: “Like many veterans, this last week has been one which has seen me struggle – through anger, and grief, and rage. The feeling abandonment of not just a country, but the sacrifice that my friends made.

“This is a harsh lesson for all of us and if we’re not careful it could be a very, very difficult lesson for our allies.

“It doesn’t need to be. We can set out a vision, clearly articulate it, for reinvigorating our European Nato partners, to make sure that we are not dependent on a single ally, on the decision of a single leader, that we can work together with Japan and Australia, France and Germany, with partners large and small and make sure we hold the line together.”

Mr Tugendhat’s intervention on the Tory leadership debate comes ahead of Sue Gray’s report into alleged Downing Street parties during lockdown – the next stage in ongoing scandal which could prompt Conservatives to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

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