17 Really Weird Moments From The Never-Ending Tory Leadership Campaign

·6-min read
(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

After eight long weeks the Conservative Party has a new leader and the country has a new prime minister.

Liz Truss was unveiled as the winner of the race to succeed Boris Johnson on Monday, following a campaign that was often as farcical as it was long.

Here, not necessarily in any order, are some of the weirder moments from the Tory scramble for No.10.

1. Braverman’s surprise bid

As ministers deserted Boris Johnson, Attorney General Suella Braverman popped up on ITV’s Peston programme and boldly announced she would run for leader.

The Brexiteer was the first to formally enter the race. But, despite deciding “the time has come for the prime minister to step down”, she did not actually resign from the cabinet. And was not sacked either.

2. Mordaunt’s campaign video

Penny Mordaunt launched her campaign with a video accompanied with stirring patriotic music. Strangely, one thing missing was any footage of Mordaunt herself.

However, it did include a clip of former Paralympic medal-winning runner Oscar Pistorius, who is currently in prison for murdering his girlfriend. Another athlete, Britain’s Jonnie Peacock, asked for his image to be removed. It also included a picture of a serving police officer, which is not allowed in political campaigns as the police are supposed to be politically neutral.

3. I don’t have a willy

Mordaunt was targeted over her past support for trans rights. In an attempt to bat away the criticisms, she jokingly told journalists at the launch of her campaign: “I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said that every prime minister needs a willy. A woman like me doesn’t have one.” Which objectively did not make sense as a joke or actually reveal her position on the issue.

4. Truss fails to find the door

Liz Truss launched her ultimately-successful campaign on July 14 with a pledge to cut taxes and “level up in a Conservative way”. She then promptly got lost leaving the room and was unable to find the door. Despite having walked through it to get into the room in the first place.

5. And crucially..

MPs who were backing Rishi Sunak were provided with nice graphics to promote. Supportive words were also suggested.

(Photo: Twitter)
(Photo: Twitter)

(Photo: Twitter)

6. There’s been a murder

Frustrated with the bitterness of the campaign, even in its early days, Mordaunt called for the “toxic” blue-on-blue attacks to end. Unfortunately her campaign then tweeted a link to a piece by Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson which included the word “murder”.

Mordaunt (Photo: Twitter)
Mordaunt (Photo: Twitter)

Mordaunt (Photo: Twitter)

7. Sweaty Saj

Sajid Javid was one of the most experienced candidates in the race. He had been chancellor, health secretary, home secretary and culture secretary. Unfortunately he launched his campaign on one of the hottest days of the year in one of the smallest rooms in Westminster and spent his entire speech sweating profusely.

(Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)
(Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)

(Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)

8. Rehman Chishti

Rehman Chishti, the largely unknMP for Gillingham and Rainham, entered the race for leader.

9. What a tart

Tom Tugenhadat, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, decided the country needed fresh blood and he was the man to offer it. Holding a press conference the banner behind him declared “Tom: A Clean Start”. Only it did not say that, instead reading: “Tom: A Tart.”

(Photo: Sky News)
(Photo: Sky News)

(Photo: Sky News)

10. Rishi Sunak’s ‘campiaign’

If you are running in the Tory leadership campaign it is probably a good idea to spell the word “campaign” correctly on your slick TV backdrops.

Sunak (Photo: Sky News)
Sunak (Photo: Sky News)

Sunak (Photo: Sky News)

(Photo: Sky News)
(Photo: Sky News)

(Photo: Sky News)

11. U-turn if you want to

In a brave move for any incoming PM, Truss’ campaign announced a policy to pay nurses and teachers who live outside of London less than those who live in the capital. After she learned what her own policy was she quickly U-turned in a move she described as “honest and decisive”. The policy, she said, had been “misrepresented” by the media. It had not.

12. Sunak tries Welsh

The campaign took the candidates all over the UK. Speaking to Welsh Tory members, Sunak was extremely pleased with his attempt at the language.

13. Surprise anti-Semitism claims

Escalating her attacks on government staff, Truss attacked “woke civil service culture that strays into anti-Semitism”. But she did not provide any evidence of anti-Semitism.

14. Are they even blinking?

The BBC’s TV debate between Sunak and Truss starring straight down the camera. Forever.

15. Our women

Pivoting towards culture war issues, Sunak was keen to go after trans people. “I will be incredibly robust in standing up against that lefty woke culture that is trying to cancel our history, our values and indeed our women,” he repeatedly told Tory members at hustings events. He did not specify who exactly he thought owned all women.

16. Ready to hit the ground

After making it into the final two in the contest, Truss was quick to let everyone know she was ready. To hit the ground. From day one.

Truss (Photo: Twitter)
Truss (Photo: Twitter)

Truss (Photo: Twitter)

17. Please clap

And finally, Truss delivered her victory speech to a hall packed full of Tory staff, members and MPs. Paying tribute to Boris Johnson, she said the outgoing PM was admired “from Kyiv to Carlisle” and paused for applause. It was a long pause.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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