Seven Tory MPs are preparing leadership bids

LONDON: Seven MPs are said to be considering running for the Conservative party leadership to replace Rishi Sunak after he announced Friday he would be stepping down as opposition leader following the party’s worst election defeat ever.
With only 121 MPs left in the House of Commons, the choice of who can run is now severely limited. Neither Boris Johnson nor David Cameron are MPs.Penny Mordaunt, former Leader of the House of Commons, had been widely touted as the next Tory leader but she lost her Portsmouth North seat to Labour by 780 votes on Thursday night. She had run for leadership twice, losing to Liz Truss after Johnson resigned and then she pulled out of the leadership contest in Oct 2022 allowing Sunak to be elected unopposed.
Those said to be preparing leadership bids are Indian-origin former home secretaries Priit Patel and Suella Braverman, former business secretary Kemi Badenoch, former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, former home secretary James Cleverly, former security minister Tom Tugendhat and former health secretary Victoria Atkins. Braverman has been running a de facto leadership campaign ever since Sunak sacked her as home secretary in November.
Websites called and have already surfaced. The bookies’ favourite is Badenoch, who is of Nigerian descent.
Some believe Sunak needs to be replaced with an interim leader straight away and Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory leader, has been suggested as a possible option.
The party is split over whether to hold the leadership contest as soon as possible or to delay it. Some want a new leader in place in time for Labour’s first budget in Sept and they fear a protracted contest plays into Starmer’s hands and allows him to cement power. Others worry that rushing into a leadership contest could lead to the wrong choice and a period of introspection is needed.
One question the party needs to figure out is whether it needs to shift Left or Right.
Reform UK was second in 98 seats and it is estimated that it cost the Conservatives 80 seats by splitting the right-wing vote. AYouGov poll midway through the election found that 36% of Reform UK voters would have voted Conservative if Reform was not on the ballot paper. Meanwhile many Tory seats were also seized by the Liberal Democrats.


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