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The race to No 10: Who has cleared the first hurdle?

A new prime minister will take residence in Downing Street in September (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
A new prime minister will take residence in Downing Street in September (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A crowded field of contenders is vying to replace Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader and prime minister.

Here are the MPs who have secured enough nominations to go through to the next round of the process and what they have to say on tax policy, one of the early dividing lines in the contest.

– Rishi Sunak

Age: 42

Ministerial experience: Chancellor of the Exchequer until July 5 when he quit in protest at the Prime Minister’s leadership.

What did he do before politics? Hedge fund manager.

What does he say on tax? He has promised to get the tax burden down once inflation is under control saying “it is a question of when, not if”, but warned rivals “it is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes”.

What does he say on defence spending? He views the Nato target of 2% of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and notes it is set to rise to 2.5% “over time” but refuses to set “arbitrary targets”.

What is his position on identity politics? He has criticised “trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender neutral language”.

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave

Constituency: Richmond (Yorks)

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday:  48

Lowest odds: 6/4

– Penny Mordaunt

Age: 49

Ministerial experience: Currently Trade Minister, has had Cabinet jobs in the defence and international development briefs.

What did she do before politics? She was a magician’s assistant while in college before a career in public relations.

What does she say about tax? She has pledged a 50% cut in VAT on fuel. But she insists she will maintain control of the public finances.

What does she say on defence spending? She stands by the manifesto commitment to the Nato target but would also create a civil defence force to supplement the military.

Where does she stand on identity politics? She said: “It was Margaret Thatcher who said ‘Every prime minister needs a Willie’. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave

Constituency: Portsmouth North

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 29

Lowest odds: 13/8

– Liz Truss

Age: 46

Ministerial experience: Current Foreign Secretary.

What did she do before politics? Worked as an economist for Shell and Cable and Wireless and was then a deputy director for right-of-centre think tank Reform.

What does she say on tax? She has pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one”, reversing April’s rise in National Insurance and promising to keep “corporation tax competitive”.

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Remain

Constituency: South West Norfolk

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 21

Lowest odds: 10/3

– Nadhim Zahawi

Conservative leadership bid
Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Age: 55

Ministerial experience: Current Chancellor of the Exchequer.

What did he do before politics? Founded polling firm YouGov.

What does he say on tax? He has promised the basic rate income tax would be cut by 1p to 19p in 2023 and then to 18p in 2024.

What does he say on defence spending? He would increase spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.

Where does he stand on the 2050 net zero target? Believes the target has to be met but also wants to “pause” both VAT and “green” levies on energy bills for two years.

What is his position on identity politics? Says the protection of women and women’s rights should be a priority while other protected characteristics should be treated in a “sensitive way”.

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave

Constituency: Stratford-on-Avon

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 13

Lowest odds: 66/1

– Tom Tugendhat

Age: 49

Ministerial experience: Never held ministerial office but chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

What did he do before politics? Served in the Army Intelligence Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan and as an adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff.

What does he say about tax? He would cut 10p a litre off fuel duty and change tax incentives to encourage business investment.

What is his position on defence spending? He would increase it to 3% of GDP saying national security must come before “bean counters and spreadsheets”.

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Remain

Constituency: Tonbridge and Malling

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 20

Lowest odds: 16/1

– Suella Braverman

Conservative leadership bid
Attorney General Suella Braverman (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Age: 42

Ministerial experience: Current Attorney General.

What did she do before entering politics? She was a barrister specialising in public law and judicial review cases, including defending the Home Office in immigration cases.

What does she say about tax? She would cut VAT on energy and fuel bills. Corporation tax would also be cut to attract and incentivise investment.

What does she say on the net zero target? Says the “all-consuming desire” to achieve the target by 2050 should be suspended otherwise the economy “will end up with zero growth”.

Where does she stand on identity politics? Wants to get rid of “woke rubbish” and return to “a country where describing a man and a woman in terms of biology does not mean that you’re going to lose your job”.

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave

Constituency: Fareham

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 12

Lowest odds: 50/1

– Jeremy Hunt

Sunday Morning
Jeremy Hunt is having another run at the Tory leadership after losing to Boris Johnson in 2019 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Age: 55

Ministerial experience: Former foreign secretary, health secretary and culture secretary.

What did he do before politics? Ran a marketing consultancy and then an education publishing firm.

What does he say on tax? He has promised to slash corporation tax to 15% and remove business rates for five years in the poorest communities. But he would keep the National Insurance rise and any cut in income tax could only come if it was sustainable, with a growing economy.

What is he saying on defence spending? He is promising to raise it to 3% of GDP by 2028 and to reverse planned cuts to the size of the Army.

How did he vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Remain

Constituency:  South West Surrey

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 11

Lowest odds: 33/1

– Kemi Badenoch


Age: 42

Ministerial experience: Resigned as equalities minister and a minister in the Levelling Up department on July 6.

What did she do before politics? Worked in McDonald’s while at college, trained as an engineer, became an associate director at private bank Coutts and held a senior role with the Spectator magazine.

What does she say on tax? She is committed to reducing corporate and personal taxes but told rivals “I will not enter into a tax bidding war over, ‘my tax cuts are bigger than yours’.”

What does she say about the net zero target? Has described the current policy as “unilateral economic disarmament” that is being pursued “without thought” for industries in the poorer parts of the UK.

What’s her position on identity politics? A possible indication – the general neutral toilets at the venue for her campaign launch had paper “men” or “ladies” signs taped to the doors.

How did she vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum? Leave

Constituency: Saffron Walden

Number of publicly-declared supporters as of 10am Wednesday: 19

Lowest odds: 10/1