How a Tory leadership contest works
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We rarely get a break from UK politics, and so it wasn’t long after Boris Johnson stepped out onto Downing Street on Thursday and announced his resignation that talk turned to who would replace him.

After Partygate, a no-confidence vote and then concerns over his handling of sexual assault allegations within the Conservative Party, the mounting calls for him to go were finally listened to.

Addressing the public and reporters, Mr Johnson said: “It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister.

“I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week.”

Now all those waiting for the inevitable leadership contest are firing up their campaigns, because when have Conservatives ever been shockingly opportunistic?

Fortunately, they’re already being roasted, so here’s a round-up of everyone who’s standing so far, the ridiculous rumours, and the memes which are already surfacing from their leadership bids.

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Rishi Sunak

Rather unsurprisingly, the former chancellor who resigned from the position earlier this week is considering taking the top job. According to reports, the URL ‘ReadyForRishi.com’ – which redirects to the official ‘Ready4Rishi.com’ - was registered back in December.

Mr Sunak announced he was running for party leader in a campaign video shared to social media on Friday, accompanied by a pledge to “restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country”.

Improving the economy sounds good to us, Rishi! The last guy did a terrible job of getting us through the cost of living crisis, so hopefully you’ll be better.

Wait…

In the almost three-minute clip, Mr Sunak said: “Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions – that’s why I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your prime minister.”

Twitter wasn’t convinced:

He already has some great support from Tory MPs, including Paul Maynard, who tweeted: “If you’re happy, can you tweet and include the hashtag Ready4Rishi, and crucially the website Ready4Rishi.com, and then your infographic below.”

That really is quite the statement…

Kemi Badenoch

UK Parliament

The former equalities minister - who also resigned this week – announced she would be standing for election on Saturday, writing in The Times that the country needs “strong but limited government focused on the essentials”.

The Saffron Waldon MP continued: “Our country is falsely criticised as oppressive to minorities and immoral, because it enforces its own borders. We cannot maintain a cohesive nation state with the zero-sum identity politics we see today.

“Exemplified by coercive control, the imposition of views, the shutting down of debate, the end of due process, identity politics is not about tolerance or individual rights but the very opposite of our crucial and enduring British values.

“I’m putting myself forward in this leadership election because I want to tell the truth. It’s the truth that will set us free.”

This, from an ex-minister who once said the UK is “one of the best countries in the world to be a Black person” and that the government “has a record to be proud of” when it comes to racial equality.

Right…

Understandably, people have been critical of her campaign:

Suella Braverman

UK Parliament

The current attorney general told ITV’s political editor Robert Peston on Wednesday it would be “the greatest honour” to serve as prime minister, stating the priority for a new government is to “deliver some proper tax cuts”.

She added: “We need to shrink the size of the state, and cut government spending, so we can curb inflation. We need to solve the problems of boats across the channel.

“We need to stop a foreign court interfering in our domestic affairs, we need to make sure that Brexit opportunities are felt for everybody in this country, and lastly, we need to get rid of all this woke rubbish.

“[We need to] actually get back to a country where describing a man and a woman in terms of biology does not mean that you’re going to lose your job.”

Nadine Dorries

UK Parliament

We promise we’re not joking. According to reports, the existing culture secretary and unwavering supporter of Mr Johnson is considering becoming the next prime minister.

And so, Twitter has erupted into laughter:

Go Nads!

Tom Tugendhat

UK Parliament

The Tonbridge and Malling MP was the first to openly consider running for the top job back in January, when he told Times Radio it would be a “huge privilege” to be prime minister.

He said at the time: “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.”

Now, in a tweet published on Friday, he wrote that it’s “time for renewal”.

“This nation needs a clean start and a government that will make trust, service and an unrelenting focus on the cost of living crisis its guiding principles,” he added.

Except talk of a “clean start” didn’t really wash with Twitter users who have pointed out that replacing a Tory with another Tory may not be the reset people are after:

Liz Truss

UK Parliament

Yes, Ms Pork Markets herself wants to upgrade from foreign secretary to prime minister after Boris Johnson.

Even going so far as to emulate the appearance of controversial former PM Margaret Thatcher, the women and equalities minister has certainly been dropping hints here and there.

Social media users find the prospect of her becoming our head of state hilarious, however:

What’s more embarrassing is that a potential campaign slogan for Ms Truss – ‘In Liz We Trust’ – has already been pinched as a website by someone else, with the link redirecting to a rather unfortunate video instead.

Jeremy Hunt

Despite being runner-up in the 2019 leadership election to replace Theresa May, the former health secretary thinks he can be successful this time around and announced his leadership campaign on Saturday.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: “It’s very straightforward why I want to do it. It is because we have to restore trust, grow the economy, and win the next election. Those are the three things that have to happen and I believe I can do that.”

Yet even Tories think Mr Hunt becoming Conservative Party leader would be terrible:

Nadhim Zahawi

The MP who resigned as Boris Johnson’s education secretary only to rejoin the government as chancellor has made clear he thinks he has what it takes to lead the Conservative Party.

The former vaccines minister said: “My aim is a simple one: to provide the opportunities that were afforded to my generation, to all Britons, whoever you are and wherever you come from. To steady the ship and to stabilise the economy.”

Yet in a wild week for the chancellor, it’s been announced that HMRC are investigating his tax affairs.

Sajid Javid

The former health secretary has thrown his hat into the ring, standing for leader once again after he put his name forward to replace Theresa May back in 2019.

He has told The Telegraph that a “prerequisite for growth is tax cuts”, adding: “There are some that say that you can't have tax cuts until you've got growth. I think that's wrong. I think that is fundamentally flawed analysis. I think you can't have growth until you've got the tax cuts."

There’s been criticism of his chances, too:

Penny Mordaunt

International trade minister and former paymaster general Penny Mordaunt is reportedly a strong favourite among young Conservatives, and announced her leadership bid on Sunday morning.

It came after she posted a thread addressing the question of “do I know what a woman is”.

Some have already mocked her chances:

Grant Shapps

Yes, the transport secretary who has made promotional videos of him in sunglasses and playing around in a train simulator seriously thinks he has what it takes to be the next Conservative Party leader.

In a tweet on Sunday setting out his vision for the premiership, Mr Shapps wrote: “My case for the leadership is simple. I plan. I communicate. I campaign. I deliver. And I can win an election for our party in tough times.”

Except his campaign has already been met with ridicule, including references to past pseudonyms he has used such as Michael Green and Sebastian Fox:


Rehman Chishti

The MP for Gillingham and Rainham, in Kent, announced he was standing for election on Sunday night. He said his campaign is all about “aspirational conservatism, fresh ideas [and a] fresh team for a fresh start taking our country forward”.

Unfortunately, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office minister has run into the issue of most of the general public not having a clue who he is:

Not good if you want to be our prime minister, really, is it?


Steve Baker

The arch-Brexiteer has already ruled himself out when it comes to the leadership election, throwing his support behind Suella Braverman instead, but we can’t help but mention his relaunched pressure group titled ‘Conservative Way Forward’.

According to its LinkedIn page, the organisation was “founded in 1991 to defend and build upon the achievements of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, and to adapt the principles of her era in government to modern concerns and challenges”.

Mr Baker, who is chairman of the Thatcherite group, has already said he will be “relaunching Conservative Way Forward to redefine the territory on which the Conservative Party operates”.

That’ll stick in people’s heads, Steve!

Is it too late to back Larry the Cat?

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