The most unpredictable Tory Leadership election in recent memory

The race to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gathering pace.
The race to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gathering pace.

At the time of writing there are six potential candidates vying to take up residency in Downing Street. By the end of next week we expect that this will be down to the final two who will go on to make their case to the Conservative Party membership. In September we will have not only a new prime minister but a new cabinet setting new priorities in a new government.

It is fair to say that this is the most unpredictable of the three contests since the Conservatives got into power in 2010. After Boris Johnson’s shock withdrawal in 2016, it was clear that Theresa May had the overwhelming support of MPs and Andrea Leadsom soon pulled out before members had a say. In 2019, Boris Johnson was the clear front runner from the beginning and a clear favourite with the party faithful.

This time it seems that Rishi Sunak is likely to top the poll of Conservative MPs but the big question is who will finish second. To complicate matters, the ConservativeHome survey and YouGov polling of party members currently suggest Sunak would lose to both Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt in the members vote. While the system is designed for this possibility, there are inherent risks to a prime minister who may not have the full backing of the majority of their MPs.

For those of us in policy and public affairs watching this contest, we will be following closely the plans laid out by the candidates. Officially, any new Conservative government’s mandate still comes from the 2019 manifesto which saw them gain an 80 seat majority. One of Theresa May’s first major U-turns came when she tried to go against Cameron’s 2015 manifesto and raise national insurance rates.

For those of us in policy and public affairs watching this contest, we will be following closely the plans laid out by the candidates.

There are plenty of policies which communal organisations including the JLC support which have not yet been implemented. The Online Safety Bill is still making its way through Parliament and a new government may be open to new amendments. The community warmly welcomed the government’s intention to legislate to stop public bodies from setting their own foreign through boycotts of Israel. This legislation was announced in the most recent Queen’s speech but is yet to be published.

We will also be keen for any new government to maintain many of the positive developments from recent years. From a tough position on proscribing antisemitic terrorist organisations, to the improvement in our voting record at international bodies to stand against their institutional bias against Israel, it is vital for any new prime minister to build on these achievements. Many community projects are also the beneficiaries of government grants and as candidates promise to cut taxes, it is reasonable to expect that departments may have to cut back.

There is currently no reason to expect that the next prime minister will be hostile to any of these objectives. However, they will come with their own priorities and only a limited amount of time left in this Parliament. Come September, my colleagues and I will be engaging with their new government to ensure our community continues to benefit from their support.

Russell Langer is the Head of Policy & Research at the Jewish Leadership Council

About the Author
Public Affairs Manager for the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC)
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