The battle for the Tory right

10 July 2022

6:22 PM

10 July 2022

6:22 PM

Who will be the candidate of the right in this contest? There is this morning a mighty tussle on to be the standard bearer of the right in this contest.

Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, is the preferred choice of many in the ERG. She has the backing of Steve Baker and as a Spartan has the battle honours too. She is offering the full spectrum of scrapping net zero, tax cuts, protocol and anti-wokery. She also stole a march by coming out early on Wednesday.

Then, there is Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, who is expected to jump into the race shortly. She holds a great office of state and has been an MP since 2010. Her argument will be that as the most senior figure the right should unite around her. At the Home Office, Patel has announced the Rwanda policy—but it is still caught up in legal challenges. But, at the moment, she appears unlikely to be able to take a decisive enough early lead on the right to persuade other candidates to coalesce around her.

Kemi Badenoch, the former equalities minister and Spectator alum, is also setting out her pitch. She has the most developed position on how to handle wokery; and has ensured that the work of the commission on racial and ethnic disparities is not buried. But Badenoch did vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal which will be held against her by some. There is also the question of whether you can jump from being a junior minister to prime minister. I suspect that if this contest was being held with the Tories in opposition, Badenoch might well win it. But in government, the dynamics are different: there’s no time to prepare yourself before entering No 10.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is also chasing votes on the right. She is offering tax cuts, higher defence spending and her protocol legislation. But the fact she campaigned for Remain is still a stumbling bloc for many.

The first round of voting will be important in determining who can become the right’s standard bearer. But given that Braverman is almost certain to make it through as the clear ERG candidate, there won’t be one candidate of the right even after the first round of voting.

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