All candidates in race to be Tory PM ‘friends of the Jewish community and Israel’

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All candidates in race to be Tory PM ‘friends of the Jewish community and Israel’

Newly elected 1922 Committee vice-chair Bob Blackman MP says Tories are in the 'serious business' of electing new leader as he reassures the community over the eight names making it onto first ballot paper

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

1922 Committee chair Bob Blackman announces eight Tory leadership candidates on first ballot paper
1922 Committee chair Bob Blackman announces eight Tory leadership candidates on first ballot paper

Bob Blackman, the newly elected vice-chair of the Conservative Party’s powerful backbench 1922 Committee, has said: “All the leadership candidates on the ballot paper are big supporters of the state of Israel and the Jewish community. ”

Speaking to Jewish News in Westminster, moment after Committee chair Sir Graham Brady had announced the eight candidates to make it onto the first ballot paper, Blackman added:”All of the Jewish community here, and indeed in Israel should have no fears about any of those candidates becoming leader, and of course the next prime minister.”

Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi were all confirmed to have gained the backing of at least 20 MPs to make it through to the next stage of the race to succeed Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

B​​​​rady confirmed the first round ballot would take place on Wednesday between 1.30pm and 3.30pm with the result announced soon afterwards.

1922 Committee executive member Blackman later said:”Clearly we are in the serious business of picking the leader of the Conservative Party, who is going to start the job literally the moment they are elected.”

He said the “high hurdle” of allowing those candidates who had received the support of at least 20 MPs to progress was needed to reduce the list down from the initial 11 candidates.

In a surprise move, former health secretary Sajid Javid withdrew from the contest five minutes before it begun.

Blackman said:”His representative was booked to proceed with the nomination, but we got a phone call to say he wasn’t coming.”

Javid later tweeted:”I have withdrawn from the Conservative leadership race.

“We now have an opportunity to renew and reunite as a party. In the last few days we have already seen an abundance of talent and ideas.

“I look forward to working together and delivering for our great country.”

Bob Blackman MP

Grant Shapps and Rehman Chishti had also pulled out of the race earlier on Tuesday.

He explained that in the next stage of the selection process on Thursday, canidates will need to get 30 votes or more.

With 351 MPs in the Tory parliamentary party that means a candidate would need to atttract the support of one in twelve of them.

“We will eliminate the canididate with the least votes, even if they get above the first votes, so they need to get a minimum of 30 votes,” explained Blackman.

Anyone below that would be eliminated ahead of a succession of further ballots next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before the list is whittled down to just two challengers.

In response to criticism from Labour over the quality of the candidates, Blackman said:”They’ve been saying the Prime Minister should be out of Number 10 Downing Street immediately and a replacement put in place.

“Well we’ve got a wide field of great talent all of whom are itching to become PM and take Labour on and defeat them once again.”

Zahawi tweeted to say he was looking forward to the next stage of the contest, while Braverman said she was “honoured.”

Hunt later denied speculation that Rishi Sunak’s campaign engineered MPs’ votes to help him clear the first hurdle of the Tory leadership contest.

Sunak later pledged he would run the country like Margaret Thatcher.

Trade Minister Mordaunt, tipped by some as a surprise winner, is due to launch her campaign in person on Wednesday.

Badenoch, the equalities minster, who has been backed by ex cabinet member Michael Gove, had been seen by Jewish News only moments before the first round results were announced nervously awaiting confirmation she had made it onto the ballot paper.

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