Conservative Party closer to choosing next leader after key role filled

Politics

The Conservative Party is a step closer to choosing a replacement for Rishi Sunak after picking a new leader of its backbench group.

Bob Blackman has been chosen as the new chair of the 1922 Committee.

“The 22”, as it is known, is the Conservative Party‘s backbench committee – meaning it organises things like leadership contests that are not part of the frontbench’s responsibilities.

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Sir Graham Brady, the previous chair, became well known for his visits to Downing Street to tell Tory leaders their time as prime minister was up.

He dispatched Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss after they lost the confidence of the backbenchers.

Sir Graham stood down as an MP at the last election.

The chair is also who Tory MPs write to when they have no confidence in the party’s leader; if they receive enough letters, a vote of no confidence is triggered.

Because Sir Graham stood back at the last election, the party has not been able to establish how Mr Sunak‘s replacement will be chosen.

But the process is now a step closer.

Following a meeting in a House of Commons committee room, Mr Blackman was picked following competition from Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Image:
Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown. Pic: Parliament

Mr Blackman won by 61 votes to 37 – with 98 votes cast.

One Tory MP, Mark Francois, decried the voting as “bent”, storming out of the committee room and past waiting journalists.

He claimed whips said voting closed at 6pm, but he was turned away before this time.

Senior Conservatives Jeremy Hunt and Sir Edward Leigh were also refused a vote.

The rest of the committee is also expected to be picked today.


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The 22 will be meeting later this week – and it is likely this is where the process for how Mr Sunak will be replaced will begin to be hashed out.

However, it is not expected to come to a firm decision on the process immediately.

There is debate within the party about whether the successor should be chosen soon, or whether a longer contest should take place – possibly lasting until the party conference in September.

The likes of Suella Braverman, Robert Jenrick, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat and Victoria Atkins are all expected to stand.

Mr Sunak staying on means he will likely appear at official events and parliamentary showdowns like Prime Minister’s Questions against Sir Keir Starmer for the time being.

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After his election defeat, Mr Sunak said: “Following this result, I will step down as party leader.

“Not immediately, but once the formal arrangements for selecting my successor are in place.

“It is important that after 14 years in government, the Conservative Party rebuilds, but also, it takes up its crucial role in opposition professionally and effectively.”

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