Nadhim Zahawi, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt have declared their candidacy this evening. Ben Wallace, who had topped the poll among Tory activists, has announced that he won’t be standing in the Tory leadership race. Rishi Sunak is now leading the field in both MPs’ endorsement – he has 24 – and bookmaker’s odds (below). Sajid Javid has announced his candidacy and Liz Truss will on Monday. Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is backing Tom Tugendhat and Justin Tomlinson has quit as deputy chairman to support Kemi Badenoch.
Keep track of the latest developments below:
10:10 p.m. Sajid Javid declares his candidacy in Sunday Telegraph interview
Fraser Nelson writes… ‘We cannot afford not to have tax cuts,’ he says (a dividing line with Sunak). ‘You can’t have growth until you’ve got the tax cuts’. He’s mulling a ‘significant’ cut in fuel duty. ‘The long way out of this, the better way, is to turbo growth. I’ve always believed in free markets, in low taxation, in light regulation, as the conditions that are necessary for growth. It was true 20 to 30 years ago, it was true under Margaret Thatcher and it’s true now. Because it’s how economies grow and how they work.’
9.35 p.m. Jeremy Hunt declares
Fraser Nelson writes… He says he would cut corporation tax from 19 per cent to 15 per cent, so clear blue water with Sunak who wants to raise corporation tax to 25 per cent. Hunt’s pitch: ‘I am the only major candidate who has not served in Boris Johnson’s government. I called out what was going wrong long before any of the other major contenders and I have not been defending the indefensible. So by choosing me, the Conservative Party is sending a signal to those voters that we have listened to your concerns and we have changed.’
9:13 p.m – Who will be the continuity Johnson candidate?
Isabel Hardman writes… There are two attention-grabbing theories that have been doing the rounds all day about the Tory leadership contest. One is that Boris Johnson intends to stand again. The other is that this is a battle to ensure Brexit isn’t unpicked.
The former may well be something Johnson would like to do, given the psychological journey he’s ended up on this week. His resignation statement was hardly one that suggested he was done with frontline politics – or indeed that he thought anyone else could ever measure up to him in the office. But the rules of the Conservative party don’t allow someone who has resigned as leader to stand again. So that’s that. With Ben Wallace ruled out of the leadership, there is now a search on for the continuity Johnson candidate to keep that flame alive.
The second is more interesting, because it has already been promulgated by one of the declared candidates, Suella Braverman. It will appeal to her constituency within the Tory party, and will become a talking point at hustings and launches. The way it will largely be manifested in practice is through the Northern Ireland Protocol row.
6.20 p.m – Nadhim Zahawi announces candidacy
Nadhim Zahawi – who was appointed Chancellor by Boris Johnson on Tuesday and who told him to resign the next day – has announced he will run to be Tory leader and Prime Minister.
5:49 p.m. – Shapps was a Johnson loyalist
James Forsyth writes… Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is running. In an interview with The Sunday Times, he casts himself as someone competent enough to deliver what Boris Johnson wanted to – big infrastructure projects, more R&D. He says his aim is for the UK to be the biggest economy in Europe by 2050; a goal which is easier to achieve than you think when you consider population growth.
Shapps was a Johnson loyalist, the keeper of the famous spreadsheet detailing the views of every Tory MP, and attacks those who he says have been preparing for this moment for months. But, at the moment, it would be a surprise if he could generate big numbers given how many Cabinet members are running. He will also have to answer questions about his alias Michael Green.
5:46 p.m – Women With Balls
Nine MPs are now backing Suella Braverman. She joined Katy Balls on Women With Balls in March. Listen below:
5:32 p.m – Liz Truss will announce next week
Liz Truss is set to announce her candidacy next week, promising to reverse tax increases brought in by Rishi Sunak.
5:06 p.m – Grant Shapps announces candidacy
The Transport Secretary said he would end a period of ‘tactical government by an often distracted centre’.
He added: ‘I have not spent the last few turbulent years plotting or briefing against the prime minister. I have not been mobilising a leadership campaign behind his back. I tell you this: for all his flaws – and who is not flawed? – I like Boris Johnson. I have never, for a moment, doubted his love of this country.’
5:00 p.m – ‘Heaven and earth’
Suella Braverman has written in the Sunday Telegraph that as PM she would ‘get government spending under control’, cut VAT on energy and ‘reduce’ (but not cancel) ‘the planned tax increases that are putting off investment’. She added that she would not sacrifice the recovery ‘on the altar of Net Zero’. and double down on the Rwanda deportation plan saying that her parents ‘decided to come here safely and legally.’
4:33 p.m. – Endorsements and launches imminent
Steerpike writes… The Tory rumour mill is in overdrive amid expectation that several leadership bids are set to be launched in tomorrow’s Sunday newspapers. Sajid Javid, who has three public backers thus far, looks set to defy suggestions he support Rishi Sunak by throwing his own hat in the ring. Nadhim Zahawi’s campaign is revving up too, with his former PPS David Johnston announcing his support today. And of course the elephant in the room is Liz Truss, who many fancy to reach the final two. When will she show her hand?
Elsewhere the talk is of big name endorsements. Tom Tugendhat is expected to gain the support of a senior Leaver tomorrow. And the decision of Ben Wallace to pull out of the running means he will be one of the most prized endorsements of all, alongside Lord Frost – the only member of the cabinet to quit over Covid regulations. Some think now is the time to put their cards on the table, given the planned 1922 meeting on Monday. Chris Skidmore has suggested that a 10 per cent threshold be introduced for candidates: with 358 Tory MPs this would mean the endorsement of 36 colleagues necessary to run for election.
Somehow Mr S suspects Sir Bill Wiggin and John Baron will struggle to reach that figure…
4:26 p.m. – How Kemi has shaken up the contest
Katy Balls writes… The events of the past 24 hours are showing just how unpredictable this Tory leadership contest will be. As James Forsyth says on Coffee House, Ben Wallace’s decision not to run means that one of the favourites is out of the picture. That means a bloc of MP nominations for other candidates to sweep up. But perhaps the bigger upset relates to Kemi Badenoch. The Tory rising star was seen as a key endorsement by various leadership contenders; now she is running herself. What’s more, she is sweeping up nominations from the 2017 intake. That means other contenders on the right of the party have their work cut out competing and drumming up the numbers for the first few rounds.
3:21 p.m. – A gamble on Badenoch could pay off spectacularly
Damian Thompson writes… There’s only one candidate for prime minister with the guts to dismantle the self-loathing culture of identity politics that is destroying Britain. She’s uniquely qualified to take on the challenge because she’s a black woman raised in Nigeria who studied for her A-levels while working in McDonald’s. And she may succeed because, in addition to a passion for knocking heads together, she has a startlingly clear understanding of how our politics and culture are poisoning each other in a left-liberal suicide pact.
Read Damian’s full piece here.
2:35 p.m. – Javid declaring tomorrow
Fraser Nelson writes… Sajid Javid is expected to declare his candidacy tomorrow, having secured the numbers. One of his closest allies, John Glenn, has just come out for Rishi Sunak – raising speculation about Javid’s support. The campaign is at an interesting stage with all kinds of rumours swirling. Interestingly I’m hearing reports that some Tory candidates have taken out ‘black ops’ researchers to attack their rivals. The games, the games…
2:32 p.m. – Who will win the military vote?
James Forsyth writes… One of the subplots of this leadership contest had been the battle for the military vote. With Ben Wallace not standing, Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt are left as the former service folk in the race.
Tugendhat will be hoping to pick up a chunk of those who would have backed Wallace. He has already succeeded in stealing a march on Jeremy Hunt as the One Nation candidate and if he can gather more support he could outperform expectations in round one in a race in which momentum is crucial. But the challenge for Tugendhat is persuading people that his first job in government should be as PM.
2:00 p.m. – MP endorsement update
As of 2pm today, this is the state of the Tory leadership race:
Rishi Sunak – 18
Suella Braverman – 9
Tom Tugendhat – 6
Liz Truss (undeclared) – 6
Penny Mordaunt (undeclared) – 6
Kemi Badenoch – 5
Jeremy Hunt (undeclared) – 2
Nadhim Zahawi (undeclared) – 2
Sajid Javid (undeclared) – 1
Read the full list here.
1:54 p.m. – Are the Tories ready for a contest?
Fraser Nelson writes… Will this leadership contest provide a debate? The Tories got into this mess because have spent years asking who can bring them power, rather than what they stand for or who has the best ideas for the country. The leadership contest should come in two stages: first discussing what has gone wrong and then next who best to remedy. So far, this is my test for the candidates. Have they said anything that moves beyond platitude and cliche? Do they show any signs of being thoughtful? Do they recognise that there is a fight ahead, and that they are prepared for that fight?
Read Fraser’s full blog here.
12:47 p.m. – Wallace’s endorsement will be heavily sought
James Forsyth writes… Ben Wallace is not running for Tory leader. Despite surveys showing that he would beat every other candidate in the run-off round, the Defence Secretary has decided not to enter the contest.
Wallace’s political stock has soared in recent months with his handling of the Ukraine situation. He was prescient in his warnings about Putin’s intentions and he broke through resistance in the system to ensure that the UK sent weaponry to Kyiv before the Russians invaded. If he had entered the contest, he would have become the favourite despite the fact little was known about his views on a host of domestic issues.
It is hard to think that any candidate would not offer Wallace a job in their cabinet. He would either be kept as defence secretary or promoted further. His endorsement will be heavily sought in the coming days.
12:34 p.m. – Wallace not running
After careful consideration and discussing with colleagues and family, I have taken the decision not to enter the contest for leadership of the Conservative Party. I am very grateful to all my parliamentary colleagues and wider members who have pledged support. 1/2
— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) July 9, 2022
11:42 a.m. – Battles begin for influential backers
Steerpike writes… More than 50 Tory MPs have now made public endorsements – just shy of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party. Campaign teams are anticipating more over the weekend, with Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner, expected to stagger his over the forthcoming days.
Already there are some interesting battles going on within the party. On the right, the ‘anti-woke’ vote is split between Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch, whose launch last night has attracted much online attention. The two look poised to battle for the votes of European Research Group and Common Sense Group, who boast many of the same members. Braverman got the big name backing of ‘Brexit Hardman’ Steve Baker while Badenoch won CSG chairman John Hayes’ support.
Mark Harper, Baker’s colleague in the Covid Recovery Group, has instead preferred to go for Rishi Sunak – a sign perhaps that he’s seen as the driest, most fiscally responsible candidate thus far. Several big names, most noticeably Nadhim Zahawi, Liz Truss and potentially Sajid Javid are yet to declare, with Team Rishi reportedly attempting to woo ‘the Saj’ to back their man as part of a ‘dream ticket.’
They say two heads are better than one – could that be true of ex Chancellors too?
10.30 a.m. – Baker folds, Badenoch stands
James Forsyth writes… A boost for Suella Braverman this morning with Steve Baker folding in behind her campaign. Thus makes Braverman the clear ERG candidate in the race.
With Baker giving her a clear run, Braverman now likely has enough support to make it through the first round with ease. The challenge for her will be transferability, how able is she to pick up support from other candidates as they get knocked out.
The other big news this morning is that Kemi Badenoch, the former equalities minister and Spectator alum is joining the race. Badenoch is running on a free speech, free markets platform. She’ll attract support from those who relish the clarity of her views. But it is a massive step up up go from being a junior minister to prime minister.
8.46 a.m – Will Sunak’s polished campaign harm his chances?
Robert Peston writes… Rishi Sunak has launched a slick, well organised leadership campaign very early. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that he has been preparing his leadership pitch quietly for weeks and months. Will this hurt or harm him? There may be some Boris Johnson loyalists who will accuse him of disloyalty – although Johnson did not manifest much fealty to Theresa May when she was PM and he foreign secretary.
Read Robert’s full blog here.
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