Unexpected Facts (Or Gaffes) From Each Tory Leadership Candidate You Might Not Know

Unexpected Facts (Or Gaffes) From Each Tory Leadership Candidate You Might Not Know


Unexpected Facts (Or Gaffes) From Each Tory Leadership Candidate You Might Not Know

Boris Johnson should (if all goes to plan) have been replaced by another Tory MP as leader of the Conservatives by October, at the latest.

But just who could be his successor?

With the last three Conservative prime ministers resigning before the end of their term, it’s going to take quite the individual to step up to the plate.

Ten Tory MPs are in the running right now, most of whom are known for their relationship with the outgoing PM or their political careers.

So here’s a breakdown of the most unusual facts (or gaffes) you might not know about the person who may soon reside in No.10.

Liz Truss: A fan of pork markets

The foreign secretary has made little secret of her leadership ambitions, with a series of high-profile interventions and photo opportunities in which she appeared to be channelling late PM Margaret Thatcher.

In 2014, her improbably upbeat speech about opening pork markets in Beijing went viral, and her excitement turned her into a meme which lives on today.

She caused further hilarity when telling the Tory Party conference that year: “We import two-thirds of our cheese, that is a disgrace.”

Rishi Sunak: Coca-Cola addict

The ex-chancellor whose resignation accelerated the exodus of Tory MPs from Johnson’s government, Sunak also famously slipped up in public only last year.

“I’m a coke addict. A total coke addict,” Sunak told two bemused schoolboys, before descending into pit of sheer panic at the realisation of what he has just said.

“Coca-Cola addict! For the record, just to be totally clear, I am a Coca-Cola addict. I have seven fillings to show for it.

“So now…so yeah, exactly, I could get in trouble. So I genuinely do have seven fillings because I got through a lot of the stuff when I was young, so people should not…don’t, don’t, don’t do that.”

Ben Wallace: Military history buff

The defence secretary has won admirers in Westminster for his straight-talking and straightforward approach, particularly among Tory MPs who pressed for the UK to increase its defence spending, although cuts to the size of the Army remain a cause for concern.

Wallace’s most surprising turn of phrase came during a conversation with Scots Guards in February this year.

He suggested they could have “kicked the backside” of the Russian president, just as they had done to Tsar Nicholas I in the Crimean War in 1853, as he suggested Vladimir Putin had gone “full tonto” by invading Ukraine.

Wallace, who is a former Scots Guards officer, made the comments as he chatted with serving military personnel at the Horse Guards building in Westminster.

Wallace said the UK has 1,000 personnel on stand-by to respond to the crisis, adding: “The Scots Guards kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea – we can always do it again.”

Jeremy Hunt: Confused husband

Former cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt has been a persistent backbench critic of Johnson.

But he managed to insult both the Chinese government and his own wife with a gaffe he himself has described as a “terrible mistake” in 2018.

The then-new foreign secretary was making his debut in China when he became momentarily confused about his spouse’s nationality, describing her as “Japanese”.

During a meeting with his counterpart, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, he said: “My wife is Japanese – my wife is Chinese. That’s a terrible mistake to make.”

Penny Mordaunt: Crude in the Commons

Mordaunt, who has been described as the “dark horse” of the leadership race, is currently the trade minister.

She is also a Royal Navy Reservist and so has taken part (or been a victim of) her fair share of military frivolity – so her gaffe is less of an error and a bit more, er, deliberate.

She explained what happened in 2014, when she said: “During our mess dinner at the end of the course I was fined for a misdemeanour, and the fine was to say a particular word, the abbreviation of cockerel, several times during a speech on the floor of the House of Commons and mention all of the officer’s names present.”

And here is that speech – maintaining a straight face throughout but very nearly cracking at the mention of “cock-a-hoop” around the 2:36 mark.

She even won a Spectator Speech of the Year award for it but said she felt “a bit of a fraud” because “let’s face it, the reason I won this award is not because of the hours I put in or the carefully crafted speech, it’s because I referred to male genitalia during the course of it”.

Sajid Javid: Proud of his roots

Sajid Javid’s resignation on Tuesday caused chaos in No 10, as the health secretary from famously humble beginnings left the government.

State school-educated Javid – known as “The Saj” in some circles – is the son of a bus driver who arrived in England from Pakistan in the 1960s.

In 2016, Labour’s Sadiq Khan was elected London’s first Muslim mayor in the face of Tory rival Zac Goldsmith campaign, which was trying to paint him as sympathetic to Islamic extremists.

Javid reached across party lines and tweeted his congratulations to Khan, “as one son of a Pakistani bus driver to another”.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former chairman of the Conservative Party, also joined in.

Tom Tugendhat: Afghan war veteran

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee became the first to announce his intention to stand for leader.

Tugendhat, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee who served in Afghanistan as a soldier, said of the fall of the country to the Taliban: “This doesn’t have to be defeat, but at the moment it damn well feels like it.”

Discussing the controversial evacuation of UK troops from the war-torn country last summer, he told the Commons: “Like many veterans this last week has been on that has seen me struggle through anger and grief and rage.

“The feeling of abandonment, of not just a country but the sacrifice that my friends made.

“I’ve watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me, a part of all of us.

“This week has torn open some of those wounds, left them raw, left us all hurting.”

Suella Braverman: Odd leadership bid

The cabinet minister, who has previously been a staunch supporter of the PM, also said she will put her name into the ring if there is a leadership contest.

A Suella Braverman for PM Twitter account has also sprung up, with Tory MP Desmond Swayne becoming the first to tweet his support for her bid.

Steve Baker: ‘Brexit hard man’

Prominent Brexiteer and former minister Steve Baker, a senior Tory backbencher, confirmed on Thursday that he is seriously considering putting himself forward for the top job.

Baker, who said he had been dubbed the “rebel commander” for his record of organising rebellions against David Cameron and Theresa May in the past, said he could throw his hat into the ring.

He even appeared to bestow upon himself when being interviewed live on Sky News. After being asked he how felt following votes not being passed in the Commons, Baker said: “Well, everyone knows I’m Brexit hard man Steve Baker, as far as I’m aware.”

Baker had another curious gaffe during a later TV interview when he talking about potentially “seizing power” if he’s elected as PM.

Nadhim Zahawi: Learned English through UK tabloids

Zahawi, who started off the week as the education secretary before taking Sunak place as chancellor on Tuesday, was one of the final members of the cabinet to publicly call for Johnson to go.

His announcement was particularly surprising, considering 24 hours before he had been trying to steady the ship of government by promising Johnson still had “integrity”.

Zahawi ’s family fled from Iraq to the UK when he was a child, back in 1976. He said he found it “genuinely hard” to fit in initially because of the language barrier.

But, he told the Spectator: “I started reading The Sun and it helped me improve my reading.

“I couldn’t make any sense of the Telegraph because my English wasn’t good enough.”

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