Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

Tory leadership contest: Who is running for the job?

Some of those vying for the job of Conservative Party leadership. (PA/PA Wire) - Credit: PA

Iain Duncan Smith said that the Conservative Party leadership contest is ‘looking like chaos’ as more MPs throw their hat into the ring.

But who are the politicians hoping to take the top job of running the Conservative Party and the United Kingdom?

Here are the runners and riders, where they stand on Brexit and what they have had to say about their bid to take on the mantle of Conservative leader.

– Boris Johnson

The former foreign secretary and London mayor is considered by most as the favourite to win the leadership race (Ladbrokes 6/4).

Easily recognisable, the 54-year-old nearly beat Theresa May to the top job in 2016, until Michael Gove decided to scupper his chances.

Since then, Johnson has burnished his Leave credentials by walking out of cabinet alongside David Davis in July last year, and has also cleared the decks on a notoriously complicated personal life.

Could soon appear in court over the dubious claims about the costs of EU membership made during the referendum campaign.

In a speech in Switzerland on Friday, he vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, “deal or no deal”, if he is made PM.

Backers include Johnny Mercer, Karl McCartney, and Nadine Dorries.

Here are 48 things you might not know about Johnson.

– Dominic Raab

The former Brexit secretary formally entered the Tory leadership race over the weekend with a call for a “new direction” (Coral 5/1).

The 44-year-old told the Mail on Sunday he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but said the UK must “calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave in October – at the latest”.

The MP for Esher and Walton added: “The country now feels stuck in the mud, humiliated by Brussels and incapable of finding a way forward.

“The prime minister has announced her resignation. It’s time for a new direction.”

Raab was a prominent Brexiteer in the referendum campaign and May appointed him as her second Brexit secretary in July, but he quit the role in November, saying he could not support her eventual deal. Along the way he made a few gaffes, including not knowing the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing.

David Davis has announced his support.

– Jeremy Hunt

The foreign secretary campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum and would be a moderate candidate on Brexit in the leadership election (Ladbrokes 12/1).

The 52-year-old battled with doctors as health secretary before being appointed foreign secretary in July last year, when Johnson quit.

Hunt claimed his business background would help resolve Brexit, telling the Sunday Times: “If I was prime minister, I’d be the first prime minister in living memory who has been an entrepreneur by background.

“Doing deals is my bread and butter as someone who has set up their own business.”

Wants the UK to be like Singapore after Brexit – which campaigners said would turn us into “a bargain basement for business.”

David Morris has said he is supporting Hunt.

– Rory Stewart

The new international development secretary launched his leadership bid in an interview with the Spectator last month (Coral 12/1).

Stewart, a former environment minister and prisons minister, has been scathing of Johnson’s stance on Brexit, saying a no-deal Brexit would be “a huge mistake, damaging, unnecessary, and I think also dishonest”.

In what is likely to be seen by many as a dig at Johnson, the 46-year-old MP for Penrith and The Border tweeted: “The star name will not always be the best choice. There may be times when Jiminy Cricket would make a better leader than Pinocchio.”

Claimed that 80% of the country supported Theresa May’s deal – something that he was forced to admit he had made up.

Attracted some “controversy” for admitting to trying opium while in Iran, but claimed it had no effect.

Stewart’s campaign was endorsed by Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

– Sam Gyimah

As the only contender offering a second referendum, the former universities minister is widely seen as rank outsider.

He has said if he becomes prime minister he would not campaign on either side in another public ballot – although he would vote Remain.

While many second referendum supporters welcomed Gyimah entering the race, others remain critical of the MP for filibustering the so-called Turing Bill which sought to automatically pardon living gay people convicted under now abolished sexual offences relating to same-sex relationships. It meant the bill was shelved before MPs could vote on it.

– Mark Harper

The Forest of Dean MP is one of the less well-known names to have expressed an interest in the top job, and has odds to match (Ladbrokes 100/1).

The 49-year-old former chartered accountant entered the Commons in 2005 and, in a Cabinet Office role, worked with Nick Clegg on the AV referendum, although being opposed to the change.

Harper worked under Theresa May as immigration minister and was behind the controversial campaign where vans drove around with the slogan “Here Illegally? Go Home or Risk Arrest”.

His tenure was cut short after he discovered his self-employed cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK and he went on to hold minister for disabled people and chief whip posts.

On Brexit, Harper campaigned for Remain but said the fact he had not served in May’s ministry – who had not delivered an exit – sets him apart from his rivals.

– Esther McVey

Former work and pensions secretary Ester McVey announced her leadership bid as she hosted an LBC call-in on Friday (Ladbrokes 50/1).

The former television presenter-turned-MP for Tatton, who quit May’s cabinet in November in protest over her Brexit plan, told listeners that the UK should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the 51-year-old said: “This country needs a genuinely bold, new approach. So we must now leave the EU on October 31 with a clean break.

“It’s time to recapture that optimism which brought about the referendum result, provide the country with a clear direction and deliver the clean Brexit people voted for,” she added.

Was told by Theresa May she did not understand how Brexit works because she wanted to agree a deal after we had left.

Backers include Pauline Latham and Ben Bradley.

Read more about her weird television years here in Brex Factor.

– Matt Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock waited until Saturday morning to announce that he was in the running (Betfred 25/1).

Was recently told by TV presenter Richard Bacon it was a contradiction to claim to champion Brexit and the NHS.

Launch his own social media app, which was branded a “privacy disaster”.

The 40-year-old said he was throwing his hat in the ring because the party needed to look to the future and attract younger voters.

He said he would take a different approach to the one Theresa May used in order to get Commons support for a Brexit deal.

He said: “She didn’t start by levelling with people about the trade-offs.

“I think it is much, much easier to bring people together behind a proposal if you are straightforward in advance.”

He told the BBC that a no-deal Brexit “simply won’t be allowed by parliament”.

Backers include Maggie Throup and Bim Afolami.

– Andrea Leadsom

The former leader of the House of Commons formally entered the race over the weekend, telling the Sunday Times that, if she is elected PM, the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal (Betfred 20/1).

The MP for South Northamptonshire said: “To succeed in a negotiation you have to be prepared to walk away.”

The 56-year-old added that she would introduce a citizens’ rights bill to resolve uncertainty facing EU nationals, then seek agreement in other areas where consensus already exists, such as on reciprocal healthcare and Gibraltar.

Once claimed she “doesn’t do” predictions before saying Brexit Britain would have a “bright future”.

She has previously described the UK’s continued membership of the EU as “disgusting” and claimed that a Brexiteer prime minister would have delivered Brexit already.

– Michael Gove

The environment secretary announced on Sunday that he is running to be next prime minister (Ladbrokes 4/1).

Gove is posing as a self-styled “unity candidate”.

“I believe that I’m ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit, and ready to lead this great country,” he said.

His intervention is likely to cause concern to current front-runner Boris Johnson, after a spectacular falling-out between the two former allies in the 2016 leadership contest helped destroy both men’s chances of the top job.

Encouraged people to rifle through rubbish after Brexit, and even appeared on television going through David Attenborough’s rubbish in his journalist days.

Backers include Nick Gibb, Kevin Hollinrake, John Stevenson, Sir Edward Leigh, Bob Seely.

– Sajid Javid

Home secretary Sajid Javid announced his leadership bid in a video he tweeted on Monday (Ladbrokes 25/1).

Highlighting the Tories’ poor performance in the European elections, Javid said his party “must get on and deliver Brexit”.

“It’s time to rebuild trust, find unity and create new opportunities across the UK,” he said.

Javid had previously signalled his leadership ambitions by arguing that he wanted the Tories to be the party of social mobility, in an interview with the Spectator.

The 49-year-old, who backed Remain in the referendum but has since positioned himself as a firm Brexiteer, became the first home secretary from an ethnic minority background when he was appointed in April 2018.

The son of a Pakistani bus driver from Rochdale, he was a managing director at Deutsche Bank before becoming an MP in 2010.

Entered into a bitter spat with The New European when we published this cartoon about his government’s involvement with Windrush.

Robert Halfon and John Glen have announced their support.

– James Cleverly

Braintree MP James Cleverly entered the fray on Wednesday (Ladbrokes 50/1).

The inaptly named Brexit minister had to issue a correction after underestimating the amount Britain has spent preparing for a no-deal Brexit by a mere £1.8 billion.

In a letter to his constituents in the Braintree and Witham Times, he wrote: “Both the country, and my party, are beset with division.

“We cannot bring the country back together unless the party of government is united, and the party cannot unite if it is led from its fringes.

“I believe the case for Brexit is still valid, and I have not wavered in that belief.”

Cleverly said a no-deal Brexit is “not his preferred choice”.

Earlier this month it was revealed his Commons credit card, which MPs use to pay for expenses, has been suspended more than ten times.

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.