How many Tory leadership candidates can the British public name?

PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 09 June 2019

We asked the British public to name the MPs in the Tory leadership contest. (Photograph: TNE)

We asked the British public to name the MPs in the Tory leadership contest. (Photograph: TNE)

Archant

We showed people on the street pictures of the Conservative leadership hopefuls to see if they could name them. There were a lot of blank faces.

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The Conservative leadership race has officially kicked off with 11 candidates standing - but not all of them have quite the cachet they might hope for with the public.

"Isn't that her from BBC Look East?" asked painter and decorator Phillip Paine, eyeing a picture of Esther McVey.

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove all had a high recognition factor - although for the latter Paine said it was mainly because he has "such a funny looking face".

Rory Stewart was, if not a household name, a guy most people have seen on Question Time at some point.

The contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, (bottom row, left to right) former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Sam Gyimah, who are trying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May.  Photograph: PA.The contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, (bottom row, left to right) former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Sam Gyimah, who are trying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May. Photograph: PA.

For retirees Josephine and Robin Seeley, who follow politics closely, Boris Johnson's picture produced evident approval.

"We like the whole family," said Robin, even though he has bet a fiver on Jeremy Hunt winning the leadership.

Hunt is less impressive to others we spoke to, variously described as "Arnold Rimmer" and having "an unsettling face".

Perhaps candidates should take heart from gardener Ray Brown in this day and age of celebrity politicians, as he couldn't name a single one, but still had a fine grasp of the issues.

Ultimately, though, he concluded: "If they're no good, they should just chuck 'em out, shouldn't they?"

Dr Aaron Bostrom, a university lecturer, took on the task with relish, naming - and then eviscerating - nearly all of the candidates.

He said he puts his students onto political explainer site theyworkforyou.com so that they can make up their own minds when it comes to voting.

The almost completely forgettable Mark Harper was the only candidate that absolutely nobody could name. "Just a generic male," said Bostrom.

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