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Battle for the soul of the Conservative Party begins after electoral bloodbath – POLITICO

Battle for the soul of the Conservative Party begins after electoral bloodbath – POLITICO

Battle for the soul of the Conservative Party begins after electoral bloodbath – POLITICO

Among those expected to stand next are, on the right, former business secretary Kemi Badenoch, the early betting favourite, and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

Hardline former home secretaries Priti Patel and Suella Braverman have been tipped as front-runners, although an ally of Braverman said this was now less likely.

Former security minister Tom Tugendhat and former health secretary Victoria Atkins are two prominent names remaining from the party’s moderate wing, with outgoing chancellor Jeremy Hunt now a wildcard after holding on to his seat against all odds.

Outgoing Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is now a wild card after clinging to his job against all odds. | Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images

While immediate recriminations between left and right are inevitable (some are so angry at the way Sunak handled the election that they don’t even want him to stay on as caretaker), there is a growing consensus that the leadership contest should last a long time while the party does some good, hard self-analysis.

Before the battle can begin, the remaining Conservative MPs will first have to elect a chair and executive for the 1922 Committee, the influential body representing rank-and-file Conservative MPs, a task that POLITICO understands will take place in the next two weeks.

The leadership contest could then be held during the long summer recess, according to two people familiar with the process, and some say the race could last even longer and conclude with the party’s annual conference in late September.