Tory leadership contenders argue in public

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Bob Blackman, the MP for Harrow East, has taken on a pivotal role in shaping his party’s forthcoming leadership contest after being elected as chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs…reports Asian Lite News

Two of the contenders to become the next Conservative Party leader have started to bicker in public over leaks to a newspaper, which claimed one had accused the other of having a “very public” nervous breakdown.

The Times published the story on Tuesday, saying the remark had been made by shadow housing secretary Kemi Badenoch about ex-home secretary Suella Braverman during a shadow cabinet meeting.

The article also said Badenoch had hit out at former prime minister Rishi Sunak for calling an election without informing his cabinet, and blamed his decision to return from D-Day commemorations in France early for the loss of cabinet ministers last Thursday.

Posting on X a day later, Badenoch said it was a “shame” the discussions had been leaked, adding: “If there is no private space to discuss our party’s challenges, we will never fully address what the electorate told us last week.”

But this was followed by a tweet from her rival, Braverman, appearing to call her party colleague out. “I’d be interested in knowing whether Kemi thinks I’m having a ‘very public nervous breakdown’,” she wrote, adding the hashtags “#honesty #unity #wedontleak”.

While neither MP has publicly declared to be in the race to replace Sunak, both are widely thought to be throwing their hats in the ring. Braverman has been ramping up her public appearances in recent days, making a number of controversial comments around LGBT+ issues, as well as giving her own analysis of the Conservatives’ disastrous performance in the general election that saw them lose power to Labour and fall to 121 seats.

suella braverman

Shadow home secretary James Cleverly – who is also rumoured to be considering a run for leader – made a plea in The Times on Wednesday morning for the contest not to descend into “bitter in-fighting and finger-pointing”, saying while the party needs a “sensible post-mortem”, it should move on to make a “broad” offer to the electorate.

Meanwhile, Bob Blackman, the MP for Harrow East, has taken on a pivotal role in shaping his party’s forthcoming leadership contest after being elected as chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

His election has already caused the first ripples of what could be a new Tory civil war when some MPs turned up to be told that voting had finished earlier than they had expected, but those tensions are only a foretaste of the kinds of issues that could come across the desk of the 68-year-old in coming weeks.

An avid reader of crime and mystery novels, Blackman has kept his cards scrupulously close to his chest about his views on who he believes is best placed to succeed Sunak, although his hard-right credentials are well known.

As for how the leadership contest could unfold and whether there might be a change of the rules, Blackman told TalkTV on Tuesday: “That is up for complete discussion.”

But he was clear that he believed the party shouldn’t rush its decision, and the scale of the defeat that had just been inflicted on his party had given Labour a majority that meant “they can almost do what they want to do”.

One of the few Tories to have increased their majorities last week, Blackman was first elected to parliament in 2010, having previously been a member of the London Assembly and deputy leader of Brent council. Before politics, he worked for British Telecom in sales and management positions before becoming a sales tutor at the BT Training College.

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