‘Bagel belt’ Tory MPs split between backing Sunak and Johnson

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‘Bagel belt’ Tory MPs split between backing Sunak and Johnson

Both Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer and Chipping Barnet's Theresa Villiers confirm their support for Rishi Sunak, but in Hendon Matthew Offord backs Boris Johnson as next PM

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Mike Freer and Theresa Villiers.
Mike Freer and Theresa Villiers.

Conservative MPs in the north London “bagel belt” seats are split between supporting Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson in the latest leadership contest, it has emerged.

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has confirmed his backing for the former chancellor to become the new Prime Minister, ahead of Monday’s deadline for nominations.

Freer had previously been a supporter of ex-PM Truss, and had earlier resigned as a minister under Johnson

In Hendon MP Matthew Offord announced he would support the return of former PM Johnson, who flew back to the UK on Saturday from a holiday in the Caribbean, but has yet to formally confirm he is running again.

Offord tweeted:”Only Boris Johnson has the experience, a record of delivery and a mandate from the British people. It’s time to #BringBackBoris”

Matthew Offord after he was re-elected as MP for Hendon at Allainz Park, London in the 2019 General Election. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday December 13, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire

Meanwhile in Chipping Barnet, MP Theresa Villiers confirmed she was supporting Sunak’s bid to become PM.

Brexiteer and former cabinet minister Villiers wrote:”Rishi is our best chance of rebuilding support for the Conservatives and our best chance of winning the next election. I backed him in the last leadership election and I am backing him again in this one.”

On Sunday Sunak confirmed he bid to become PM tweeting:”“The United Kingdom is a great country but we face a profound economic crisis. That’s why I am standing to be leader of the Conservative party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country.”

Johnson was yet to declare on Sunday but his close colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg said the former prime minister was “clearly going to stand”.

The business secretary and the former chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris both said Johnson had the numbers behind him to reach the required threshold of 100 MPs, despite scepticism among his critics that the former PM had that level of backing.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, and Nadhim Zahawi, the Cabinet Office minister, who had called on Johnson to resign four months ago, were amongst those to confirm support for the former PM.

Penny Mordaunt has also announced her bid to lead the party, but appears to lack the support from MPs required in a race scheduled to be concluded by Friday.

All three Tory MPs in the so-called north London “bagel belt” will be concerned about opinion polls showing Labour under Keir Starmer far ahead of their party at the moment.

Labour are hopeful of gaining Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet at the next election.

In July, MP Freer stood down as exports minister in the Johnson government saying:”I feel that we are moving away from the One Nation Conservative Party I joined, not least in creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people and I regret I can no longer defend policies I fundamentally disagree with.”

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