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The Conservative leadership election appears to be wide open, with candidates from almost every party’s ideological wing. With one nation of Tories and fiscal conservatives, Brexiters and remainers, there will be an array of views for MPs and activists to consider.
Here is a rundown of the runners and riders – and what we know of their political and social stances.
The former soldier has won the support of Damian Green, the chair of the One Nation caucus of Conservative MPs, giving him a headstart over Jeremy Hunt with softer Tories.
Launching his candidacy with an article in the Daily Telegraph, Tugendhat struck a unifying note, promising to “bridge the Brexit divide”, but he also called for the immediate reversal of the recent national insurance increase – which Labour also opposed.
As chair of the health and social care committee through the Covid crisis, Hunt stuck rigidly to health policy and patient safety, on which he recently wrote a book.
But his policy pitch when he stood for the leadership in 2019 included raising the threshold for national insurance – a tax cut for low to middle earners – and increasing defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, something Boris Johnson also recently advocated. He was also less hardline on Brexit, speaking out against the no-deal option.
An ardent Brexiter, Mordaunt infuriated remains during the 2016 referendum campaign by wrongly claiming the UK would not have a veto on Turkey joining the EU.
On economic policy, she is towards the Tory left; however, supporting food banks (called “pantries”) in her Portsmouth North constituency and pressing for more action from the government on the cost of living crisis. She is also a keen advocate of LGBT rights.
Javid painted himself as a low-tax Tory after resigning as chancellor in 2020, but after replacing the disgraced Matt Hancock as health secretary, he pushed hard for more health and social care spending, and he signed up for the plan for a rise in national insurance contributions to fund it.
He also focused on health inequalities in his last post and previously highlighted the importance of further education colleges, having attended one himself.
Perhaps not surprisingly for an independently wealthy former businessman – the second richest MP in parliament behind Sunak – the new chancellor has already hinted he would like to see business taxes cut.
He also suggested other tax cuts could be in the pipeline, though Johnson’s caretaker cabinet has since pledged to save major fiscal decisions until a new leader is in place.
Sunak’s politics are very dry on tax and spending: like Philip Hammond and George Osborne before him, he has championed the importance of getting the public finances under control, in his case, even where it has meant raising taxes in the face of an economic downturn.
He is socially liberal, though he has signed up the anti-woke warrior Oliver Dowden to his campaign team and is a fan of US-style entrepreneurialism.
Truss campaigned for remain in 2016 but has since enthusiastically turned Brexiter and has taken a hard line in recent months on the Northern Ireland protocol.
Like many of the candidates, she would be expected to call for a lower tax burden. She has also long been a champion of a right-wing version of individual freedom, memorably hailing a generation of “Uber-riding, Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating freedom fighters”.
The attorney general launched her leadership pitch by promising to “get rid of all this woke rubbish”, and she has also said there is a “rights culture” in the UK that has “spun out of control”.
A dyed-in-the-wool Brexiter, she recently won plaudits from the party’s rightwing by giving the legal nod to the Northern Ireland protocol bill, despite many experts suggesting it breaks international law.
The former equalities minister, who is known for her willingness to embrace controversy over culture war issues, said she was putting herself forward because she wanted to “tell the truth”.
Writing in the Times, the MP for Saffron Walden hit out at “identity politics” and said Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them”.
She added that she supported lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, accompanied by a tight spending discipline”.
The transport secretary, one of the senior cabinet ministers who did not resign last week, threw his hat into the ring to be a leader on Saturday.
In an apparent dig at his colleagues, he told the paper he had “not spent the last few turbulent years plotting or briefing against the prime minister” or organising a leadership campaign in the background. Shapps declared he would produce an emergency budget, instructing his chancellor to cut personal tax for the most vulnerable and giving state support to firms with high levels of energy consumption, and ruled out a general election.
Source: The Guardian