Who could succeed Rishi Sunak as Conservative Party leader?

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By Creative Media News

  • Leadership race starts post-Sunak’s resignation
  • Key contenders from right and moderate wings
  • Badenoch, Braverman, Cleverly, Jenrick lead

Following the Labour Party’s huge victory, the battle for the Conservative Party leadership began after Rishi Sunak’s defeat.

Rishi Sunak has announced his resignation following the Tories’ loss to Labour in the general election.

With the party returning to opposition for the first time since 2010, the search for its next leader has begun.

So, who is likely to enter the race, what do they stand for, and, most importantly, do they have the support of party members?

Ms Badenoch, the former business secretary, is seen as a right-wing darling. She impresses certain party members with her no-nonsense style.

Michael Gove, the former levelling up secretary who resigned as an MP during the election, is one of her most vocal supporters.

Ms Badenoch retained her safe seat of Essex North West in the election.

She ran in the first Tory leadership contest in 2022, following Mr Johnson’s departure. On the first ballot for MPs, she finished fourth out of eight candidates before being eliminated in the fourth round of voting.

Ms Badenoch has spoken about women’s rights, equality, and identity politics.

Ms Braverman has developed a reputation on the right as someone who is not hesitant to express provocative views on immigration and law and order.

Mr Sunak appointed her as home secretary to cater to the party’s right-wing, where she enjoyed widespread support.

Her dismissal in November 2023, following comments that homelessness was a “lifestyle choice,” may have influenced her position among Tory MPs.

However, her harsh attitude on immigration was positively received by certain party members.

Despite being challenged by the Liberal Democrats, she retained her Fareham and Waterlooville seat.

Before the election, Ms Braverman urged the Conservatives to collaborate with Reform UK and suggested that Nigel Farage join the party.

Following re-election, she apologised and said her party “didn’t listen” to the country.

“The country deserves better, and we must do better. I will do all in my ability to restore trust. We need to listen to you; you have spoken to us very clearly,” she continued.

The recent former home secretary and former foreign secretary is being touted in moderate Tory quarters as a candidate capable of unifying the party.

He retained his seat in Braintree, Essex, during the election.

Mr Cleverly is one of the party’s most experienced former cabinet ministers and has served as its chairman.

A crucial aspect of his role as home secretary was the idea to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, which he claimed to have had qualms about in private, despite his denials.

He sparked outrage last year and was forced to apologise for making a joke about date rape, which he said could have harmed the government’s efforts to combat alcohol spiking.

It was reported before the election that he would not run to replace Mr Sunak, but we are still waiting for an official statement.

After his victory, he said he would ” not rush to any quick judgements” about the outcome.

Mr Jenrick held various ministerial positions, including communities secretary, which he lost during one of Mr Johnson’s reshuffles.

According to sources, he was a Sunak loyalist before being named immigration minister, partly to keep the more right-wing Ms Braverman in check.

However, Mr Jenrick later made news when he quit over Mr Sunak’s Rwanda bill, stating that he could not continue in his position because he “strongly disagreed with the direction of the government’s immigration policy.”

By the election, he also acted as the party’s right-wing spokesman.

His Newark seat in the East Midlands had been relatively safe in 2019, but the outcome was much closer this time.

However, his previous acts, such as rushing through a £1 billion housing development offered by a Tory donor, may come back to bite him.

Whether Jeremy Hunt would win his Godalming and Ash seat was still determined.

He kept his seat in parliament despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

He has attempted to lead the party occasionally but has never succeeded.

In his victory speech, he indicated he would run for the presidency in opposition.

He stated, “Some Conservatives may question if the scale of our catastrophic defeat was truly deserved.

“But when you lose the electorate’s trust, all that matters is having the bravery and humility to ask yourself why. So you can earn it back.”

The former home secretary was a prominent torchbearer for the right until Ms Braverman eclipsed her following Mr Johnson’s death.

She remained under the radar but made many interventions, especially on tax, after the Conservatives’ tenure in power.

Dame Priti is seen as one of the party’s more conventional right-wing MPs, as opposed to her successor, Ms Braverman, who is popular among some Tory MPs elected in 2019.

Her seat in Witham, Essex, has been one of the most secure in the UK, and she retained it in the election despite a Labour challenge.

Another important element is that she remained loyal to Mr Johnson and was popular among Tory members.

The One Nation group of moderate Tory MPs well regards Mr Tugendhat.

“Unlock your financial potential with free Webull shares in the UK.”

He previously ran for Tory leader when Mr Johnson was expelled, but was knocked out early and eventually shifted his support to Ms Truss.

He represented Tonbridge in Kent.

Mr Tugendhat is known for his aggressive posture towards China, which became more toned after he entered office.

He’s also a former soldier.

Mr Sunak appointed Lord Cameron as foreign secretary in the final days of the Conservative cabinet, a surprise return to frontline politics after his resignation as prime minister in 2016 following the EU referendum.

A return as party leader would be even more surprising, and at this point, it should be seen as a remote possibility.

It’s uncertain how much support the former Prime Minister would receive in a Tory vote, but he may be viewed as a stabilising influence.

Although he is not an MP, he can still head the Conservatives as a member of the Lords.

The last time a peer-led the party independently was in the late 1800s, under the third Marquess of Salisbury.

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