Who is Kemi Badenoch? The Saffron Walden MP running to become the next Prime Minister

Kemi Badenoch MP
Kemi Badenoch MP

Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch has opened her Conservative Party leadership campaign speech by saying "it's time to tell the truth".

The Saffron Walden MP is a strong contender in the Tory leadership contest - currently sitting in second position according to one poll.

Tory MPs will today (Wednesday 13 July) have the chance to vote for the eight contenders vying to replace Boris Johnson, as balloting begins to find his successor.

Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman will also all be on the ballot alongside Ms Badenoch, after each secured the 20 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the contest.

Ms Badenoch launched her bid on Tuesday, vowing not to enter a tax cut “bidding war” and arguing others had been trying to “have your cake and eat it”.She told MPs and journalists at the event: "Governing involves trade-offs and you need to be honest about that."

Ms Badenoch also said the public is "crying out for honesty" from the next prime minister, a quality she pledged to embody if chosen.

She was earlier this week sitting in second position just below Penny Mordaunt in the Tory leadership contest triggered by Boris Johnson's resignation, according to Conservative Home.

MP for Brentwood and Ongar, Alex Burghart, has already backed his fellow Essex MP.

He tweeted: "Kemi Badenoch is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met - and the embodiment of all that is good about our party & country

"I am supporting her to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minster."

Former senior cabinet minister Michael Gove has also thrown his support behind  Kemi Badenoch in the leadership race, after he was sacked by Mr Johnson amid last week's wave of resignations.

Candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race. Credit: PA Images

Ms Badenoch served as Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities between 16 September 2021 and 6 July 2022.

She was also Equalities Minister from 14 February 2020 until this month, when she joined the exodus of parliamentarians deserting Mr Johnson's government.

Ms Badenoch has previously held roles as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education.

She is a former Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party and former member of the Justice Select Committee.

Ms Badenoch has served as a Member of Parliament since 2017. In 2019, she was re-elected as the MP for the Saffron Walden constituency. 

Ms Badenoch supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum on EU membership.

Prior to her election as a Member of Parliament, she was a member of the London Assembly, acting as the GLA Conservative’s spokesperson for the economy.

Kemi is also a patron of several charities in her constituency including Support 4 Sight, The Stroke Club and CVSU.

The MP has said she supports lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”.

Writing in The Times, she also hit out at “identity politics” and said Boris Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them”.

“People are exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric. Loving our country, our people or our party is not enough,” she said.

“What’s missing is an intellectual grasp of what is required to run the country in an era of increased polarisation, protectionism and populism amplified by social media.”

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