Kemi Badenoch has just completed her leadership launch. Although she is an outside bet, her campaign has been building momentum after Michael Gove endorsed her and she came a narrow second in a ConHome poll on who should be the next Tory leader. The launch saw her try to put the flesh on the bones of her pitch to MPs – which so far has been dominated by identity politics. In a flick to her position on culture wars, the toilets at the venue had paper signs put on them so they weren’t gender neutral.
In her speech, Badenoch was all too happy to put clear blue water between herself and Boris Johnson, saying politicians ought to be honest that people can’t have their cake and eat it. She also said tax ought not be the defining debate in the contest, it should be the candidate’s judgment:
‘Governing involves trade-offs, and we need to start being honest about that. Unlike others, I am not going to promise you things without a plan to deliver them. People are sick of that. They’re crying out for honesty.’
In the Q&A that followed, Badenoch was asked what immediate support she would offer on the cost of living. She said that she thought short-term handouts were a bad idea.
I asked what Badenoch’s response was to critics who say she is just too inexperienced and it would be irresponsible for her to enter 10 Downing Street.
She replied that no one had put her in cabinet but she had been there and willing – and this meant she hadn’t been tainted by bad decisions. She said that her work as a junior minister and the fact that she has balanced different briefs shows she can be PM. But this still remains the biggest question mark over her bid.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.