Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi jostle in Tory succession race

Now Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi jostle for poll position in Tory succession race as MPs openly discuss who they’d back if contest to replace Boris was held tomorrow

  • Most attention has so far focused on Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
  • Other names are now starting to bubble to the surface – in particular, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi
  • Mr Hunt was Mr Johnson’s final opponent in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, promising Mr Johnson the ‘fight of his life’
  • But in the end, Tory members backed the Brexit-supporting Mr Johnson over Remainer Mr Hunt by a margin of 66 per cent to 34 per cent
  • Many MPs are also talking up prospects of Mr Zahawi, a popular figure who as Vaccines Minister, before moving to Education, was associated with huge success of early jab rollout
  • With the jostling to succeed Boris Johnson becoming increasingly unsubtle, Tory MPs are now discussing openly who they would back if a contest was held tomorrow.

    While most attention has so far focused on Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, other names are now starting to bubble to the surface – in particular, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

    Mr Hunt was Mr Johnson’s final opponent in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, promising Mr Johnson the ‘fight of his life’ – but in the end, Tory members backed the Brexit-supporting Mr Johnson over Remainer Mr Hunt by a margin of 66 per cent to 34 per cent.

    With the jostling to succeed Boris Johnson becoming increasingly unsubtle, Tory MPs are now discussing openly who they would back if a contest was held tomorrow. While most attention has so far focused on Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, other names are now starting to bubble to the surface ¿ in particular, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (above) and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

    With the jostling to succeed Boris Johnson becoming increasingly unsubtle, Tory MPs are now discussing openly who they would back if a contest was held tomorrow. While most attention has so far focused on Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, other names are now starting to bubble to the surface – in particular, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (above) and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

    Many MPs are also talking up the prospects of Mr Zahawi (above), a popular figure who as Vaccines Minister, before moving to Education, was associated with the huge success of the early jab rollout

    Many MPs are also talking up the prospects of Mr Zahawi (above), a popular figure who as Vaccines Minister, before moving to Education, was associated with the huge success of the early jab rollout

    But with Brexit no longer dominating the political agenda, if a contest is called in the near future Mr Hunt is likely to be tempted to run on an ‘I told you so’ ticket, presenting himself as a ‘safe pair of hands’ in the wake of Mr Johnson’s often chaotic administration and highlighting his long stint as a solid Health Secretary. 

    Rival camps claims that Mr Hunt, now chair of the Health Select Committee, has a leadership team of former advisers already in place, as well as a ready-made Cabinet comprised of former allies of Theresa May – who, as The Mail on Sunday revealed last week, has become the focus of much of the plotting against Mr Johnson.

    Mr Hunt’s fellow select committee chairs, such as the ambitious Huw Merriman on Transport, Tom Tugendhat on Foreign and Tobias Ellwood on Defence, would be hopeful of advancement under a Hunt leadership. 

    Liz Truss

    Rishi Sunak

    Pictured, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – while other MPs tipped to run include Home Secretary Priti Patel, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Tom Tugendhat, Trade Minister Penny Mourdant and even former Cabinet Minister Matt Hancock








    But many MPs are also talking up the prospects of Mr Zahawi, a popular figure who as Vaccines Minister, before moving to Education, was associated with the huge success of the early jab rollout.

    The pro-Brexit Mr Zahawi also has an unbeatable ‘back story’: he fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with his family in time to start secondary school in the UK but unable to speak a word of English.

    He defied the bullies at his London comprehensive to build a successful business career, and likes to say: ‘This is the best country in the world. 

    ‘I cannot think of another country that would take an immigrant from Baghdad and make him Secretary of State for Education in Her Majesty’s Government.’

    Mr Hunt was Mr Johnson's final opponent in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, promising Mr Johnson the 'fight of his life' ¿ but in the end, Tory members backed the Brexit-supporting Mr Johnson over Remainer Mr Hunt by a margin of 66 per cent to 34 per cent

    Mr Hunt was Mr Johnson’s final opponent in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, promising Mr Johnson the ‘fight of his life’ – but in the end, Tory members backed the Brexit-supporting Mr Johnson over Remainer Mr Hunt by a margin of 66 per cent to 34 per cent

    One Tory MP said: ‘Keep an eye on Nadhim.

    ‘He is very popular, polls well and is untainted by the f*** ups of this Government’.

    The contenders are fighting in particular over the 107 new Tory MPs elected in 2019, comprising nearly one third of the Parliamentary party, dominated by the Red Wall MPs in former Northern and Midlands Labour seats.

    They played a key role in Tuesday’s Commons rebellion against the Prime Minister, a vote which has poisoned the atmosphere among the group.

    One ‘Waller’, who is on the Government ‘payroll’ as a Parliamentary aide but has privately backed Ms Truss for leader, has been accused by colleagues of acting like a ‘budget Boris’ by wavering until the last minute between loyalty and rebellion in the vote — and preparing two different public statements to release depending on which way he jumped.

    The MP backed Mr Johnson, and almost instantly released a long supportive statement, leading to descriptions of him as a ‘crawler’ on MPs’ WhatsApp groups.

    The MP admits to ‘doubts’ about the vote, but denies preparing two statements.

    One Red Wall MP said: ‘The letters are definitely going in from the 2019 contingent, but everyone is mainly split at the moment between Rishi, Priti and Liz’.

    Other MPs tipped to run include Home Secretary Priti Patel, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Tugendhat, Trade Minister Penny Mourdant and even former Cabinet Minister Matt Hancock.








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