Conservative Leadership Contest 2022: Who Are The Candidates?

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The Conservative Party leadership contest has begun and as of the time of writing (Tuesday 12th July) there are 10 candidates vying for the position of leader of the Conservative Party and new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

I’ve written previously about how the leadership election works and the 1922 committee have announced some amendments to the rules for the 2022 leadership competition:

  • A candidate will need the backing of 20 named MPs
  • A candidate needs to get a minimum of 30 votes to pass through to the second round of voting

This in an increase from the 2019 contest where a candidate needed 8 backers and 17 votes to progress past the first round.

All 358 Conservative MPs will be voting across a series of rounds, with the first one being on Wednesday 13th July and the second to be held on Thursday 14th July. Further ballots will be held starting next week in order to whittle the field down to the two final candidates that will then be on the ballot sent out to the approximate 200,000 Conservative Party members.

During the leadership contest, there will also be two televised debates one on ITV on Sunday 17th and the second on Sky News on Monday 18th July. Some have queried the need for a televised “U.S style Presidential Debate” as the vote is technically an internal Conservative party matter but, as the new leader with also become the Prime Minister it’s important that the wider public know what each candidate stands for.

Each MP has a budget of £300,000 for campaign expenses double the limit of the 2019 contest. Note that this figure only counts after a contestant has formally started to campaign[1]Insider: 11 Tory leadership candidates’ donors and war chests analysed ahead of £300,000 contest so some of those who got in early with flashy videos (Sunak for example) may not have to use their campaign budget to pay for these – but I’m sure some interesting things will come out about this as the contest progresses.

So, with the background out of the way let’s take a look at the candidates, their background and what their policies are so far:

Kemi Badenoch

Kemi BadenochBadenoch has been MP for Saffron Walden since 2017. She served as Minister of State for Local Government, Faith and Communities and Minister of State for Equalities between 2021 and 2022 before standing down during the Johnson Resignation Spree.

From her website:

We need the discipline to transform government into an effective and streamlined machine which actually works for ordinary communities.
We need strong but limited government focused on doing some things well, not lots of things badly.

Badenoch isn’t without controversy despite her short time in government. Her views on Trans rights were leaked[2]The Mirror: Kemi Badenoch’s biggest controversies as Michael Gove backs her for PM which seemed to be at odds with her role as Equalities Minister and faced a lot of criticism after backing a report stating that there was no evidence of “institutional racism” in Britain.

Twitter | Campaign Website

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Suella Braverman

Suella BravermanBraverman has been MP for Fareham since 2015 and was appointed Attorney General in 2020.

She’s caused controversy recently with her backing of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and the use of the “Doctrine Of Necessity“.

From her website:

People voted Conservative for different reasons, but the common thread is a belief that Britain is at its best when it makes decisions for itself. The British people put their trust in this government. I will never betray that. A government I lead will move heaven and earth to get this country back on track.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Rehman Chishti

Rehman ChishtiProbably the least known on the candidate list, Chishti has been MP for Gillingham and Rainham since 2010. He was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs by Boris Johnson in July 2022 and had previously served as Vice Chair of the Conservative Party for Communities in 2018 and the Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Pakistan from 2017 to 2018 under Theresa May.

Interestingly, Christi was a member of the Labour party.

Chishti was elected as a Labour member for Gillingham North ward on Medway Council in 2003 and in the 2005 general election, Chishti stood as a Labour candidate for Horsham.


Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy HuntHunt has been MP for South West Surrey since 2005, and has served as Culture Secretary, Health Secretary and Foreign Secretary. He is currently Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

Hunt was controversial in his role of Health Secretary having presided over the government’s austerity policy which saw expansion of NHS services and staff severely reduced and which are being (in part) blamed for the issues the health service is currently facing.

From his website:

We need to win the next election. To do that we need to win back trust. The trust of the voters who have lost faith in us in recent months, the trust of families who are struggling with the cost of living and the trust of business which needs to know we back them to create jobs and generate wealth.
This is the same across the country, north and south, in our cities and towns, and in our rural communities. We have to win these voters back. Jeremy is the man to do that.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Sajid Javid

Sajid JavidJavid was the first MP to resign which helped start the wave of resignations that toppled Johnson.

Javid’s held most of the major roles in the cabinet including Culture Secretary, Business Secretary, Home Secretary, Chancellor and Health Secretary.

Coming from a banking background, Javid’s finances came into question after it was found that he made a large loan to a firm linked to his brother in what some were calling a “tax avoidance scheme[3]The Mirror: Labour ask HMRC to probe Sajid Javid’s tax affairs as he’s confronted in TV interview


Penny Morduant

Penny MorduantMorduant has been the MP representing Portsmouth since 2010 and currently serves as Minister of State for Trade Policy. She’s been Secretary of Stae for International Development and Secretary of State for Defence – the first woman to hold the position.

During the 2016 Brexit campaign, Morduant became a controvertial figure in the media after apparently spreading falsehoods regarding immigration levels from Turkey and, more recently, since annoucing she’s running for Conservative leader she has made a U-Turn on her stance on Trans rights[4]Pink News: Penny Mordaunt’s U-turn away from supporting trans rights is a sign of things to come in the Tory leadership challenge, activists say.

From her website:

My party was elected to deliver a manifesto. The party was elected to deliver Brexit – and the benefits of it. We must all recover from the economic damage done by the pandemic and recent global shocks and build resilience.
To deliver on all these objectives we need to build a team, not just among the party but with every sector and every part of the UK. We need to modernise to deliver. That means reform in how Government operates. It means enabling others to do more to help. It means restoring some common cause, unity and pride.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Grant Shapps

Grant ShappsShapps has been MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005 and currently holds the position of Transport Secretary – you might remember him from some of his “odd” videos promoting train travel.

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Shapps controversy comes from a “Get Rich Quick” website he ran using the name “Michael Green” despite his claims that his own name was present on the website (an investigation showed it wasn’t[5]The Guardian: Grant Shapps did not publish own name on marketing website, analysis finds) – this prompted many to joke on twitter that Shapp should remember he was only allowed to put one name on the ballot.


Rishi Sunak

Rishi SunakSunak has been MP for Richmond (Yorkshire) since 2015 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer until he resigned in 2022 and prior to that was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Sunak’s been in quite a few controversies recently, most notably receiving a fixed penalty notice (and therefore breaking the law) by attending a birthday party for PM Boris Johnson during lockdown when non-work gatherings were banner. He initially denied any wrong doing until photo evidence was produce. He’s also received severe backlash over his and his wife’s tax dealings as it would appear they used a non-dom status loophole to avoid paying tax in the U.K – he’s father-in-law’s also a billionaire so…..

From his website:

I got into politics because I want everyone in this country to have the opportunity to be able to give their children a better future.
Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation. Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions. Because the choices we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will have more opportunities than the last.
We need to restore trust in our politics. We need to rebuild our economy. And we need to reunite the country.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Liz Truss

Liz TrussTruss has been MP for South West Norfolk since 2010 and has served as Minister for Women and Equalities since 2019 and has served as Foreign Secretary since 2021.

Truss has had a few gaffs since becoming Foreign Secretary, most notably causing Vladimir Putin to raise the Russian nuclear threat level after she made statements that alarmed the Russian Leader[6]ITV News: ‘Not naming names but it was Liz Truss’: Russia blames its nuclear response on UK foreign secretary

From her website:

Getting the difficult things done where others have failed.
A clear plan for the economy and the country to get Britain back on track.
Reuniting the Conservative Party and the United Kingdom.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Tom Tugendhat

Tom TugendhatTugendhat has been MP for Tonbridge and Malling since 2015 and has served as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee since 2017. He was in the Territorial Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tugendhat seems to be one of the less controversial of the candidates and recently said of Trans rights that “We must never take away what it means to be a biological woman, but we must respect people who are in a different gender identity.”

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From his website:

To unite the party and the country, and deliver a positive way forward in these challenging times, we need a clean start.
I have served before – in the military, and now in Parliament. Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister.

Twitter | Campaign Website

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim ZahawiZahawi has been MP for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010 and has served as Education Secretary, Secretary for COVID-19 vaccine deployment and, most recently following Sunak’s resignation, Chancellor.

He famously told Johnson to resign within 24 hours of being made Chancellor and is now under some scrutiny over his tax affairs with some news outlets claiming he is being investigated by the HMRC[7]Independent: Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs under investigation by HMRC something the he has denied however the HMRC have stated they raised a “Red Flag” over his finances before he was made chancellor[8]The Guardian: Revealed: officials raised ‘flag’ over Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs before he was appointed chancellor and that would be enough to bar someone from getting an MBE so this could be a death blow to his campaign if true – expect a lot more digging from both the press and his leadership opponents on this matter.

Twitter | Doesn’t appear to have a campaign website

Wrapping Up

As I am writing this, it would appear some candidates have dropped out already but I’ve left them in for completeness – candidates who throw their hat in the ring once often have a tendency to stand again so it’s handy to have them all in one place.

I’ll write further articles as the contest progresses.

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