It’s Rishi Sunak vs Liz Truss — your Tory leadership cheatsheet

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·27-min read
It’s Rishi Sunak vs Liz Truss — your Tory leadership cheatsheet
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It’s almost as though they were waiting in the wings all along, given the speed at which their bids to run for PM came rolling in.

Ex-military backbencher Tom Tugendhat was the first Tory to officially launch his campaign to replace Boris Johnson earlier this month (though attorney general Suella Braverman - technically - made her intentions clear before Johnson even announced his resignation).

Since then, there was such a steady stream of MPs throwing their hats into the ring that Tory insiders nicknamed the contest the “wacky races”. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and his predecessor Rishi Sunak had been among the big names to join the race, with total contender numbers at one point standing at 11 until Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pulled out, Sajid Javid and Rehman Chishti withdrew. Since then Jeremy Hunt, Braverman, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch and Nadhim Zahawi were eliminated for not having enough backers.

Now Penny Mordaunt has been eliminated with105 backers to LizTruss’s 113 and Rishi Sunak’s 137. With a new PM due to be elected before September 5, the next six weeks will see Sunak and Truss campaigning up and down the country in an effort to win over the lion’s share of the 200,000 Tory membership.

Here we recap on the key candidates and what the main issues at the heart of their leadership bids were.

Candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race. (Top, left to right) Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and Penny Mordaunt, (bottom, left to right) Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former health secretary Sajid Javid, Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Hunt, Kemi Badenoch and Rehman Chishti (PA) (PA Wire)
Candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race. (Top, left to right) Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and Penny Mordaunt, (bottom, left to right) Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former health secretary Sajid Javid, Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Hunt, Kemi Badenoch and Rehman Chishti (PA) (PA Wire)

From the “fantasy tax cuts” and “war on the woke” rows that could decide Johnson’s successor, to the former reality TV star currently in second place, here’s everything you need to know about the runners and riders in the race for Number 10 (so far).

Liz Truss, 46

Position: Foreign Secretary

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been accused of trying to emulate Margaret Thatcher with photo opportunities (Rob Pinney/PA) (PA Wire)
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been accused of trying to emulate Margaret Thatcher with photo opportunities (Rob Pinney/PA) (PA Wire)

Remainer turned Brexit hardliner Truss, 46, has long been touted as one of Johnson’s most likely successors and her candidacy has been widely anticipated since Johnson resigned on Thursday.

The MP for south west Norfolk, Johnson loyalist and keen Instagram aficionado announced her candidacy and “economy economy economy” mandate in The Telegraph and via a slick promo video last night, billing herself as an experienced, “core Tory” candidate who can be “trusted to deliver” and can “hit the ground running from day one”.

As Foreign Secretary, the mother-of-two has been known for her hard line on Ukraine and threats to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol with the EU, but her leadership bid is mostly focused on the economy. She has promised “immediate action” to help with the cost-of-living crisis, including business rates reforms and tax cuts from her first day in office, a pledge that’s been criticised by Sunak supporters for being a “fantasy”.

Backed by: 15 MPs including Kwasi Kwarteng and Therese Coffey

Where she stands on tax: She wants to “start cutting taxes from day one” because “it isn’t right to be putting up taxes now”.

Where she stands on National Insurance: She wants to reverse the planned hike.

Where she stands on Rwanda: Truss believes the controversial plan is “completely moral” and would help to “break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.”

Her view on trans rights: Last year, then-Equalities Minister Truss said it was “dehumanising” to be “treated as a woman” when she was challenged over trans rights, calling for everyone to be seen as “individual humans” instead. In October she told The Telegraph she had “full respect for transgender people” but that “it wouldn’t be right to have self identification with no checks and balances in the system”.

Skeletons and scandals: Truss may well consider cheese one of her skeletons, if she counts the way she is haunted by the viral comments she made at the 2014 Tory Party Conference (”we import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace”), but there have also been two more serious scandals that have rocked her career over the decades. In 2006 her husband reportedly forgave her after her 18-month affair with former Tory MP and ‘mentor’ Mark Field became public. Questions were also asked about her credibility last year after it emerged that she had splashed out £3,000 of public money on lunch at luxury private members club 5 Hertford Street.

Rishi Sunak, 42

Position: Former Chancellor

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It didn’t take long. Just 28 hours after Johnson’s resignation— which he helped to trigger himself, by resigning as Chancellor just 48 hours before — father-of-two Sunak, 42, announced his leadership bid, promising to “restore trust”, end the country’s “culture wars” and give everyone the opportunities the UK gave to his immigrant grandmother.

The multi-millionaire former Chancellor announced his bid in a slick campaign video, saying he’d decided to “grip the moment”, despite recent reports that his fancy new campaign website ready4rishi.com was reportedly created all the way back in September 2020 (had he been planning this for years?).

Insiders say he’s already the clear frontrunner, with the contest set to become a “Rishi vs the rest” or “Rishi vs the [Tory] right” contest. Sunak has reportedly racked up more than 30 endorsements from MPs already.

Backed by: 32 MPs including Dominic Raab, Oliver Dowden and Grant Shapps, who’s just withdrawn his own leadership bid

Where he stands on tax: Sunak knows voters don’t want to hear this, but has already warned that Britain cannot afford early tax cuts. Like his predecessors Philip Hammond and George Osborne, he believes in the importance of getting public finances under control, even if it means raising taxes.

Where he stands on national insurance: Sunak proposed the NI hike himself when he was still Chancellor, so he’s unlikely to backtrack from the proposal now.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Sunak (finally) revealed his view on the policy last night, after Tory rivals pointed out that he’d not yet given a stance. Unsurprisingly, he backs it. “Rishi signed off and funded the Asylum Partnership Agreement with Rwanda, and now he just wants to make sure that it works,” his spokesman told The Times. “Rishi is proud to be from a family of immigrants but believes that the UK must have control of its borders.”

His view on trans rights: Sunak entered the so-called trans “minefield” this week, vowing to “protect women’s rights” from “gender-neutral language” which “erases women” if he becomes PM. “He believes we must be able to call a mother a mother and talk about breastfeeding, alongside trans-inclusive language where needed,” an ally of his said this week. His manifesto will reportedly oppose biological males being allowed to compete against women in sport.

Skeletons and scandals: Earlier this year, Sunak’s wife was the subject of a supposed scandal after accusations that she might be benefitting from “non-dom” tax reduction schemes - on the same day her then-Chancellor husband hiked national insurance taxes for millions during a time of rising household bills. Since launching his leadership bid, another skeleton has surfaced: a TV clip of himself from 20 years ago, when he was in his final year at Oxford, describing his friends as “err... not working class”. Insiders say a 424-word critique or “mucky memo” of Sunak is currently circulating on Tory WhatsApp groups.

Penny Mordaunt, 49 (knocked out)

Position: International trade minister

Penny Mordaunt was Mr Wallace’s predecessor as defence secretary before being sacked by Mr Johnson when he became PM (PA) (PA Wire)
Penny Mordaunt was Mr Wallace’s predecessor as defence secretary before being sacked by Mr Johnson when he became PM (PA) (PA Wire)

You might remember ardent Brexiteer and Portsmouth North MP Mordaunt, 49, from various ministerial positions she’s held over the years, but her latest - as the UK’s first female defence secretary under Theresa May - was probably the most memorable, after she was fired by Johnson shortly after he became PM. Could her PM bid be part of a revenge plot?

Many see her as a colourful character - she once appeared on Tom Daley’s reality TV show Splash!, used to be a magician’s assistant and is a former navy reservist - who sits towards the Tory left and is a keen advocate of LGBT rights. But she has hit back at those calling her “woke”.

She currently has the second highest number of Tory MP endorsements (21) and the so-called “dark horse” of the race - though not everyone is a fan. Paralympian Jonnie Peacock and jailed Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius are among several public figures who’ve already asked to be removed from her leadership promo video.

She announced her candidacy using a fittingly military metaphor. “Our leadership has to change,” she wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “It needs to become a little less about the leader, a lot more about the ship”.

Backed by: 21 MPs including Andrea Leadsom

Where she stands on tax: Mordaunt says she’d cut VAT from 20 to 10 per cent if she becomes PM. She’s expected to cut corporation tax too.

Where she stands on national insurance: She’s expected to stop the NI rise, according to the Sun.

Where she stands on Rwanda: Mordaunt is yet to comment.

Her view on trans rights: Mordaunt is a staunch defender of trans rights. In 2018, then-Equalities Minister said “trans women are women and trans men are men” and pledged to do more so that “LGBT people can thrive in the UK”. Womens’ rights groups say she is too hung up on trans rights to become PM, but this weekend, she hit back at those calling her “woke” on the issue, saying she has “fought for women’s rights all my life”. “Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female,” she tweeted. “That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me.”

Skeletons and scandals: Mordaunt is probably well-accustomed to clips of her belly-flopping on Splash! emerging every time she makes the headlines, but one of her more serious TV gaffes came when David Cameron called her out on the Andrew Marr Show for telling lies during the Leave campaign, which she strongly backed. She claimed that the UK could not stop Turkey joining the EU, which he pointed out was completely wrong. “The fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straightforward as this wrong, I think should call into question their whole judgement in making the bigger argument about leaving the EU,” Cameron said, prompting #MordauntFacts to trend on Twitter. She also courted controversy years earlier in 2014 for admitting to peppering a parliamentary speech with the words “c**k”, “lay” and “laid” for a dare.

Tom Tugendhat, 49 (knocked out)

Position: Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Tom Tugendhat has vowed to stand by the Government’s proposed changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol (PA) (PA Wire)
Tom Tugendhat has vowed to stand by the Government’s proposed changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol (PA) (PA Wire)

Followers of Tugendhat, 49, won’t be surprised he’s running to replace Johnson. The MP for Tonbridge and Malling, former soldier and Afghanistan veteran, has been a longstanding critic of the current PM (and Johnson reportedly loathes him back) and first made his intention to “serve again” by standing for leadership clear in January.

The Remain-voting son of a High Court Judge and father-of-two formally announced his candidacy in the Daily Mail last week, saying he wants to “bridge the Brexit divide”, be tough on Russia and China and reverse the planned National Insurance hikes. He’s also one of the only candidates to mention the environment or clean energy, saying he plans to introduce an energy resilience plan to “ensure the UK has dependable power produced at home, or sourced from trusted allies”.

“Trust in our politics and our party is collapsing,” he said, announcing his bid on Friday. “I have served before – in the military, and now in parliament. Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister. It’s time for a clean start. It’s time for renewal.”

Backed by: 15 MPs including Damian Green, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Karen Brady

Where he stands on tax: He has promised to take action on “crippling” fuel duties.

Where he stands on national insurance: Tugendhat has promised to reverse the hike in NI.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Tugendhat has defended Priti Patel’s plan, saying he would like to go further in tackling the trafficking problem at its root. “The Rwanda solution is not one anyone would have initially chosen but the reality is you cannot have rewards for criminality and illegal action,” he says. He would couple this with a more concerted effort to deal with a new regime in Libya, where much of the trafficking starts.

His view on trans rights: Tugendhat says he wants to “move on” from the trans debate. “It is one of those debates that demonstrates why we need to move on because it’s really easy to make division where we need unity,” he said on Sunday. “We must never take away what it means to be a biological woman, but we must respect people who are in a different gender identity.”

Skeletons and scandals: Tugendhat was banned from China last year, after being a key player in the China Research Group of Tory MPs calling for a more hawkish approach to the country and defending its citizens’ human rights. Asked about the naughtiest thing he’d ever done on Sky News last weekend, his answer was simple: “Well, I invaded a country once,” he said of his time in Iraq, admitting he’s not a “natural rebel”.

Kemi Badenoch, 42 (knocked out)

Position: Former equalities minister

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (Jessica Taylor/PA) (PA Media)
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (Jessica Taylor/PA) (PA Media)

Badenoch, 42, is one of only two candidates so far not to have served in the cabinet, but she hopes her honest, anti-woke mandate will set her apart. “I’m putting myself forward in this leadership election because I want to tell the truth,” the MP for Saffron Walden and former banker wrote in The Times on Saturday, making headlines for suggesting that the British Empire achieved “good things”.

She says she wants to bring people together at a time of increased polarisation. “People are exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric. Loving our country, our people or our party is not enough. What’s missing is an intellectual grasp of what is required to run the country in an era of increased polarisation, protectionism and populism amplified by social media.”

The Brexit voter promises to stand up for minorities and focus on the “essentials”: lower taxes, boosting growth, and tight spending. Michael Gove is among 12 MPs to back her so far, calling her “brave, principled, brilliant and kind”.

Backed by: 13 MPs including Michael Gove

Where she stands on tax: Badenoch says she supports lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”, but refuses to enter a “tax bidding war”. “The dividing line in this race is not tax cuts, it’s judgement,” she said this morning.

Where she stands on national insurance: Badenoch is yet to comment.

Where she stands on Rwanda: Badenoch is yet to comment.

Her view on trans rights: In 2018 she reportedly described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms” and asked: “We’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?” Trans groups say they feel “utterly [failed]” by her as a minister so far after she refused to allow gender neutral toilets at her leadership campaign launch. Instead, masking tape signs were stuck onto each generic cubicle, labelling them as for “men” and “ladies”.

Skeletons and scandals: Many say Badenoch’s ascent through parliament is down to her straight-talking attitude and willingness to embrace conflict over culture war issues - insiders have gone as far as saying she would “cross the road to pick a fight”. She has been criticised for claiming “I don’t care about colonialism” in leaked WhatsApp conversations, made headlines for suggesting the British Empire achieved “good things” and last year she was condemned by academics for rebuffing calls for more teaching of black history in schools, saying she did not want white children being taught about “their inherited racial guilt”. She was also criticised in January for publishing screenshots of a journalist’s emails to her, for which the journalist was trolled and forced to make her account private.

Suella Braverman, 42 (knocked out)

Position: Attorney General

Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated from the race (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated from the race (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Hardline Brexiteer Braverman, 42, pipped all of her rivals to the post last week, making her intentions to run for Downing Street known before Johnson had even announced his resignation. “I love this country, my parents came here [from Goa] with absolutely nothing and it was Britain that gave them hope, security and opportunity,” the MP for Fareham told ITV’s Robert Peston the night before the PM stepped down.

“This country has afforded me incredible opportunities in education and in my career. I owe a debt of gratitude to this country and to serve as PM would be the greatest honour, so yes, I will try.”

The attorney general’s new campaign Twitter account appeared just hours after Johnson’s speech, promising to wage a “war on wokeness”. But Brexit wasn’t the main issue at the heart of Braverman’s bid. After leaving her post as junior minister in Theresa May’s Brexit department in 2018 because she didn’t think the former PM’s Brexit deal went far enough in breaking ties with Europe, she promises to make this her mission if she’s elected. “Don’t vote for me because I’m a woman, don’t vote for me because I’m brown,” she said before being knocked out. “Vote for me because I love this country and because I will do anything for it.”

Backed by: 11 MPs including Steve Baker

Where she stands on tax: Braverman said that there is “no alternative but radical tax cuts”. But she also pledged sweeping reform of public services and a reduced welfare budget as an alternative to cutting tax, saying there are “too many people in this country” who are of working age and good health and are “choosing to rely on benefits”.

Where she stands on national insurance: Braverman did not comment.

Where she stands on Rwanda: Braverman backs the Rwanda plan and is angry that the European Court of Human Rights tried to block it. “When people voted for Brexit they expected we would take back control of our borders,” she said this weekend. “It is unacceptable that a foreign court had stopped the Rwandan deportation flight. The British people should be able to vote for their priorities and expect that their government can carry them out. This is the definition of taking back control.”

Her view on trans rights: Braverman believes there’s been a “collective frenzy” over trans rights and that “rights culture” has “spun out of control”, calling Harry Potter author JK Rowling a “heroine” for her stance on the issue. “We need to get rid of all of this woke rubbish and get back to a country where describing a man and a woman in terms of biology does not mean that you’re going to lose your job,” she has said.

Skeletons and scandals: Braverman is no stranger to courting controversy - and she knows it. “If I get trolled and I provoke a bad response on Twitter I know I’m doing the right thing,” she says of her anti-woke views. She insists that “people are terrified of pointing out the basic facts of biology” on the trans issue and was called out for antisemitism in 2019 for a speech in which she said “as Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against ‘cultural Marxism’”. In 2020 questions were also raised about her membership of a Buddhist sect called Triratna, which has reportedly been the subject of serious allegations of historic sexual abuse.

Nadhim Zahawi, 55 (knocked out)

Position: Chancellor

Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Apparently the number two job wasn’t good enough. Zahawi, 55, has had a rollercoaster of week, by anyone’s standards: last Tuesday the former vaccines minister and then-Education Secretary was catapulted into the second most important job in Government as Britain’s new Chancellor, after a series of bombshell resignations saw Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid both walk out of their ministerial jobs saying they’d lost confidence in the Prime Minister. Within 24 hours, Zahawi was urging his boss to quit - and until today he’s pipped as one of the frontrunners to take over from him in Downing Street (he’s since been eliminated for not having enough backers). Not bad for a former oil exec who didn’t speak a word of English when he arrived in the UK from Iraq aged 11.

Until getting eliminated, the father-of-three was billing himself on the reputation he’s built for himself so far in government: as a “safe pair of hands” who can “steady the ship”. He announced his candidacy in The Sunday Times, rooting his bid in “great education” for all and “stabilising the economy”, with a tax-cutting pledge that involves slashing the government department headcount by 20 per cent if elected, which would almost certainly lead to thousands of job losses across Whitehall.

The keen Brexit-backer also hoped to use Britain’s departure from Europe to the country’s advantage. “Thanks to Brexit, we are now a free nation. Let’s not just talk about the opportunities that follow, let’s take them.,” he said in his bid for leader. “If a young boy, who came here aged 11 without a word of English, can serve at the highest levels of Her Majesty’s Government and run to be the next prime minister, anything is possible.”

Backed by: 13 MPs including Brandon Lewis, Tobias Ellwood and Paul Scully

Where he stands on tax: Unsurprisingly for the second richest MP behind Sunak, Zahawi has already hinted that he’d like to see a cut to business taxes. He’s suggested that other tax cuts could be on the cards too, saying “nothing is off the table” when it comes to tax cuts after taking up his new role as Chancellor.

Where he stands on national insurance: Zahawi’s view on the NI hike is yet to be announced but accountancy experts say abolishing it would be an “easy win” for the new Chancellor.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Despite his own family fleeing to the UK from Iraq when he was 11, Zahawi supports the Rwanda policy, insisting it will help to “break [people smugglers’] business model” and that Channel migrants are “choosing to be putting their lives at risk”. Asked how he thinks he’d have fared as a child if he’d been put on a plane to Rwanda last month, he said: “the important thing to remember is we have legal routes for immigration or for asylum and refuge in our country and we want to make sure that people come here legally”.

His view on trans rights: Zahawi takes a hardline stance on so-called culture war issues, insisting he wants to protect children from what he claims are “damaging and inappropriate nonsense from radical activists”.

Skeletons and scandals: There were questions over his tax affairs before he even became Chancellor. Now, HM Revenue and Customs is reportedly probing the new Chancellor over his finances after civil servants raised a red “flag”. Zahawi hit back at allegations over his tax affairs in the Observer this weekend, calling them “inaccurate and smears” and saying he would “not apologise for being a successful businessman”. He’s vowed to publish his tax return annually if he’s made PM.

Jeremy Hunt, 55 (knocked out)

Position: Former foreign, health and defence secretaries

Jeremy Hunt has said he will increase defence spending (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
Jeremy Hunt has said he will increase defence spending (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Clearly 2019 was just the warm-up. Father-of-two Hunt, 55, was the runner-up to Johnson in the last election and until today he thought he could win by offering the opposite of the former Mayor of London did: a serious, less controversial leadership style, with (hopefully) fewer rulebreaking parties (colleagues are reportedly nicknaming him “Theresa May in trousers”).

His USP? Being the only major candidate who hasn’t served in Johnson’s government. The MP for South West Surrey and former health secretary of six years has been waiting in the wings on the back benches for three years now, chairing the Commons Health Committee through the Covid crisis and writing a book about it, and was among the early favourites with bookmakers until being knocked out for not having enough backers.

The Remainer turned Brexit supporter insisted he’s a Tory “moderate” and that his posh background does not mean he’s out of touch with ordinary voters. He said would appoint the North West Tory MP Esther McVey as his deputy, who would act as the John Prescott to his Tony Blair.

Backed by: 13 MPs including Esther McVey

Where he stands on tax: Hunt vowed to slash corporation tax but he has also warned that tax cuts have to be done in a way that is “sustainable”. “It can’t be an electoral bribe and it depends on growth,” he said this weekend. “What you’d need is an income tax cut that is for life, not for Christmas. That means starting by saying we’re going to get the economy growing, then you get yourself in a position [to do so].”

Where he stands on National Insurance: Unlike Javid, he wants to keep the planned NI increase in place because “the NHS needs the money”.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Hunt supports the deportation plan so much that he wants to expand it to other countries. “I hope we could find some other countries as well as Rwanda,” he told The Sunday Telegraph this week, adding on Sky News: “If we want to be a humane country that offers a safe haven for people who genuinely need asylum, then we need to find legal, safe routes for people to come here – not a mad dash for people to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers and try to get across the channel.”

His view on trans rights: Hunt didn’t speak on the trans issue as part of his leadership bid. His last comments on the issue came in 2018, when the department he was managing, the Department of Health and Social Care, commented on a proposed ban on teen transgender treatment. “With regard to young people’s consent to these procedures and treatment, the department’s position is that patients have a fundamental legal and ethical right to determine what happens to their own bodies.”

Skeletons and scandals: Hunt is open about his failings as Britain’s longest-serving health secretary: he acknowledges that underfunding caused “a lot of pain for the NHS”, regrets letting social care cuts go “too far” and acknowledges that he was the first health minister to cause a junior doctors’ strike without emergency cover. He’ll also forever be haunted by his most infamous gaffe of referring to his Chinese wife as “Japanese” during a 2018 visit to Beijing.

Rehman Chishti, 43 (withdrawn)

Position: Foreign Office minister

 (Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)))
(Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)))

Rehman who? Pakistan-born Chishti, 43, was only appointed as a minister in the Foreign Office last week and within days he was launching his bid for the top. Until his withdrawal, he was one of only two candidates not to have served in the cabinet alongside Badenoch and is widely considered the biggest outsider in the race and a “surprise” entry, having previously stood as a Labour candidate in the 2005 general election before defecting to the Tories two years later.

“It’s about aspirational conservatism, fresh ideas, fresh team for a fresh start taking our great country forward,” the MP for Gillingham and Rainham and former barrister wrote on Twitter.

Like Zahawi, he arrived in the UK not being able to speak any English, and grew up in Kent, a story he put front and centre of his manifesto. “For me it’s important to ensure that everyone who works hard, who is determined, who is perseveres has a government that is on their side. That means lower taxes, small state, [and a] big society.”

Backed by: None

Where he stands on tax: Chishti’s low-key promo video includes plans to lower tax.

Where he stands on national insurance: Chishti did not comment.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Chishti did not comment

His view on trans rights: Chishti did not comment

Skeletons and scandals: Chishti was the subject of a conflict of interest investigation last year, after it was discovered that he lobbied for a planning application made by one of his donors. He also came under fire for inviting the former leader of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to give a lecture in Westminster in 2017, after reports that Sharif was at the centre of a corruption scandal.

Sajid Javid, 52 (withdrawn)

Position: Former health secretary

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“I don’t have a fancy new video. So here’s one I made earlier,” Javid, 52, tweeted over the weekend as he announced his leadership bid in an obvious jibe at his rival Sunak. The former banker and father-of-four pipped Sunak to the post (just) last week, resigning as Johnson’s health secretary a matter of minutes before his Chancellor comrade stepped down in protest too. Until last night, he was hot on frontrunner Sunak’s heels to replace Johnson, promising “integrity, experience, and a tax-cutting plan for economic growth” when he announced his bid in the Sunday papers.

The Rochdale-born son-of-a-Pakistani-bus-driver held ministerial roles in housing, business and culture before becoming Chancellor and then Health Secretary during the pandemic (he made it to the final four in the 2019 election but dropped out and later endorsed Johnson). Among his prime ministerial pledges were cutting April’s planned rise in corporation tax from 25 per cent to 15 per cent, abandoning Sunak’s proposed National Insurance hike, and planning a five-year business rates holiday for the most deprived parts of the country.

He told reporters after his resignation that he was looking forward to spending time with his family – perhaps that will sweeten the blow of not becoming PM, too.

Backed by: 10 MPs including Rob Halfon

Where he stands on tax: Javid says he’ll cut fuel duty by 10p within days of becoming PM, a move that would cost roughly £2.5bn. He would also cut income tax by 1p and slash corporation tax to 15 per cent.

Where he stands on national insurance: Javid pledges to halt the planned increase if he becomes PM.

Where he stands on Rwanda: Javid backs the plan, admitting there are “no easy solutions” to the Channel migrants crisis but that “we must break the deadly business model of people-smugglers” and “it is right to prioritise protecting the most vulnerable through safe routes”.

His view on trans rights: As health secretary until last week, Javid has been forced to weigh into the trans debate on numerous occasions. Last month he insisted that “it’s biological sex that matters” when it comes to transgender people participating in sporting competitions, and two weeks ago he announced that every trans child treated on the NHS would have their medical records scrutinised to see how many regret transitioning.

Skeletons and scandals: Another contender, another set of questions raised about their tax affairs. The latest headlines have concerned Javid, who is accused of exploiting a non-dom tax loophole while working in the Treasury in reports that surfaced just a day after he called for more tax transparency in the leadership contest this week. Javid has repeatedly refused to deny having used a tax haven and declined to say where he was a tax resident while he was a non-dom. Separately, he has also come out this week to say he was “embarrassed” to be sent out on the airwaves to defend the government over the partygate scandal. “I’ve made my anger very clear and I think I made it super clear when I resigned,” he told ITV News.

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