Conservative leadership election: Who is still in the race to be the UK’s next prime minister?

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Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, announces the results of the second ballot round (PA)
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, announces the results of the second ballot round (PA)

The race to replace Boris Johnson as the UK’s next prime minister is hotting up.

Here are the candidates left in the Tory leadership contest following the second round of voting.

Rishi Sunak

Age: 42.

Bio: Born in Southampton in 1980, his father was a GP and his mother ran her own pharmacy. He attended one of the top private schools in the country, Winchester College, before studying PPE at Oxford. In parliament since 2015, he is thought to be among one of the richest MPs in the Commons, he has had a rapid rise to the upper tier of British politics – gaining nationwide recognition after being appointed Chancellor in February 2020, weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Ministerial experience: Chancellor of the Exchequer until July 5 when he quit in protest at the Prime Minister’s leadership.

What did he do before politics? Hedge fund manager.

What does he say on tax? He has promised to get the tax burden down once inflation is under control, saying “it is a question of when, not if”, but warned rivals “it is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes”.

What does he say on defence spending? He views the Nato target of 2% of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and notes it is set to rise to 2.5% “over time” but refuses to set “arbitrary targets”.

What is his position on identity politics? He has criticised “trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language”.

Where does he stand on the Rwanda asylum policy? He supports the current Government policy.

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave.

Constituency: Richmond (Yorks).

Votes in the first round of the leadership contest: 88.

Lowest odds: 6/4.

Penny Mordaunt

Age: 49.

Bio: A colourful MP for Portsmouth North, Ms Mordaunt has represented the constituency since 2010. Born in Torquay, her mother died of breast cancer when she was 15. After college, she did stints working on George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. She also appeared on reality TV diving show Splash in 2014.

Ministerial experience: Currently trade minister, has had Cabinet jobs in the defence and international development briefs.

What did she do before politics? She was a magician’s assistant while in college before a career in public relations.

What does she say about tax? She has pledged a 50% cut in VAT on fuel. But she insists she will maintain control of the public finances.

What does she say on defence spending? She stands by the manifesto commitment to the Nato target but would also create a civil defence force to supplement the military.

Where does she stand on identity politics? She said: “It was Margaret Thatcher who said, ‘Every prime minister needs a Willie’. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”

Where does she stand on the Rwanda asylum policy? She backs the current Government policy: “I will crack down on the evil and barbaric smugglers that exploit vulnerable people to cross the channel illegally.”

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave.

Constituency: Portsmouth North.

Votes in the first round of the leadership contest: 67.

Lowest odds: 13/8.

– Liz Truss

Age: 46.

Bio Born in Oxford, her father was a maths professor and her mother was a nurse. Both left-wing voters, they and her family moved to Paisley, near Glasgow, when Truss was four. As a child she was brought up on ani-Thatcher demonstrations, while she was also a Liberal Democrat for a brief period in her youth. It was only later that she became interested in right-wing politics and the Conservative Party. She is married to husband Hugh, who she met at the 1997 Conservative Party conference and has two teenage daughters.

Ministerial experience: Current Foreign Secretary.

What did she do before politics? Worked as an economist for Shell and Cable and Wireless and was then a deputy director for right-of-centre think tank Reform.

What does she say on tax? She has pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one”, reversing April’s rise in national insurance and promising to keep “corporation tax competitive”.

Where does she stand on the Rwanda asylum policy? Ms Truss backs the Rwanda policy and said she has worked closely with the Home Secretary on it.

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Remain.

Constituency: South West Norfolk.

Votes in the first round of the leadership contest: 50.

Lowest odds: 10/3.

– Kemi Badenoch

Age: 42.

Bio: Born in Wimbledon to two doctors, she lived in the US and Nigeria before returning to the UK at the age of 16. She worked in McDonalds to put herself through two degrees, one in engineering and another in law. A former vice-chair of the Conservative Party, she was elected to parliament in 2017 – rising through the ministerial ranks rapidly over the last few years.

Ministerial experience: Resigned as equalities minister and a minister in the Levelling Up department on July 6.

What did she do before politics? Trained as an engineer, became an associate director at private bank Coutts and held a senior role with the Spectator magazine.

What does she say on tax? She is committed to reducing corporate and personal taxes but told rivals: “I will not enter into a tax bidding war over ‘my tax cuts are bigger than yours’.”

What does she say about the net-zero target? Has described the current policy as “unilateral economic disarmament” that is being pursued “without thought” for industries in the poorer parts of the UK.

What’s her position on identity politics? A possible indication: the gender neutral toilets at the venue for her campaign launch had paper “men” and “ladies” signs taped to the doors.

Where does she stand on the Rwanda asylum policy? She backs the Government policy.

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave.

Constituency: Saffron Walden.

Votes in the first round of the leadership contest: 40.

Lowest odds: 10/1.

– Tom Tugendhat

Age: 49.

Bio: He grew up in London and Sellindge, near Ashford, before studying Theology at Bristol University. He studied for a master’s degree in Islamics at Cambridge University, before joining the army. An MP since 2015 for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, he lives with his wife, Anissia, and two children in the constituency.

Ministerial experience: Never held ministerial office but chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

What did he do before politics? Served in the Army Intelligence Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan and was an adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff.

What does he say about tax? He would cut 10p a litre off fuel duty and change tax incentives to encourage business investment.

What is his position on defence spending? He would increase it to 3% of GDP saying national security must come before “bean counters and spreadsheets”.

Where does he stand on the Rwanda asylum policy? He has said he would keep the policy: “The Rwanda solution is not one anyone would have initially chosen but the reality is you cannot have rewards for criminality and illegal action.”

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Remain.

Constituency: Tonbridge and Malling.

Votes in the first round of the leadership contest: 37.

Lowest odds: 16/1.

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