News | Published June 10 2019

Conservative Party leadership race: Who’s who?

Theresa May’s decision to step down on Friday as leader of the Conservative party leaves the role of prime minister up for contest.

With her failure to deliver Brexit cited as the reason for her resignation, the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU hinges on the outcome of this race.

Candidates’ stances on Brexit – the key issue of the day – remain at the forefront of their campaigns.

The process

Currently there are eleven candidates that have expressed their desire to take on the role.

Those that have more than eight MPs supporting their bid will be automatically shortlisted on 10 June.

Conservative MPs will then vote on who they would like to see lead the party, with the final two candidates being those that are the most successful at this stage.

The winner will then be selected from these two after being voted on by members of the Conservative Party, comprising roughly 120,000 people.

Key contenders

Boris Johnson

A strong supporter of Brexit, Johnson was a prominent member of the Leave Campaign and has promised to deliver Brexit with or without a deal by 31 October. He also proposes a ministerial negotiation team rather than civil servants.

In the last leadership race, he was considered the favourite until his long-time friend and colleague, Michael Gove, ruined his chances. This time, however, it looks like he could win it.

Currently, Johnson has the most votes in support for his candidacy, with 43 MPs backing him.

Michael Gove

Another key figure in the Leave Campaign, he is a firm supporter of a Brexit and regarded as a principal contender in the race. His goal is to focus on renegotiating the backstop arrangement, with another deadline extension if necessary.

Gove has previously been Education Secretary and is currently Environment Secretary.

Gove currently has 28 MPs supporting his bid.

Jeremy Hunt

Previously a supporter of remaining within the EU, he now supports Brexit. He hopes to send a new negotiation team to Brussels, this time comprising elements of the ERG and DUP. As with others, he promises to get a better deal on the backstop.

The former health secretary now holds the position of foreign secretary.

Hunt has 26 votes of support.

Dominic Raab

He believes that emphasis should be placed solely on a free trade agreement rather than a customs one, citing Canada’s trading relationship with the EU as an example. He has also hinted at a suspension of parliament and claimed WTO terms are a viable and practical solution.

The former Brexit secretary is a firm Eurosceptic with a strong background in law.

He currently has 22 votes of support.

Sajid Javid

Originally, Javid was a firm supporter of the remain campaign, but has since gone on to establish himself as a Brexit supporter. He pledges to focus entirely on the Irish border, proposing digitised checks to ensure a soft border.

Javid holds the position of Home Secretary but has previously served as business secretary under Cameron’s government.

Javid has 16 MPs supporting him.

Matt Hancock

A supporter of May’s Brexit deal, his campaign has been characterised by a softer, more centrist approach to Brexit and other social and economic issues.

The current health secretary has held the previous position of culture secretary.

Hancock has been suggested to be a viable option for the party who may want to bring in a “new face”.

He currently holds 12 votes.

Other candidates

Five other candidates remain, although it’s likely that they will withdraw from the race at around the deadline on 10 June due to a lack of supporting MPs.

Among them, the most prominent is Rory Stewart, whose innovative social media strategy and eccentricity has got people’s attention. His suggestion of a citizen’s assembly to solve Brexit doesn’t have much support within the party. He has just five votes.

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Authored by

Alice Campbell
June 10 2019

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