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The word “Dumbledore” was soon trending on Twitter when the former military officer quoted JK Rowling’s character from her beloved Harry Potter series after being asked by an audience member: “Why should the public trust you?”
Mr Tugendhat, 49, echoed Dumbledore’s sentiment when he told the debate: “It’s easy to stand up to your enemies – it’s sometimes harder to stand up to your friends.”
He spoke while acknowledging “trust in politics has been collapsing, trust in our party has been collapsing”, and added: “I’ve been holding a mirror to many of our actions and asking those in our party, those in our leadership positions, to ask themselves ‘is that what the public really expects?’
“Are you serving the people of the United Kingdom or are you serving your career? Because that’s the real question tonight.
“That’s the real question for all of us.”
Twitter users were quick to notice the similarity to Dumbledore’s famous quote, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”, before he awarded Neville Longbottom with 10 points for Gryffindor in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
“Is Tom Tugendhat a Harry Potter fan?” one person wrote.
“Don’t think any of us expected Tom Tugendhat to be straight out of the gate with a direct quote from Dumbledore,” another said.
Mr Tugendhat joined fellow Tory leadership contenders Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss at the debate on Friday, hosted by Krishan Guru-Murthy.