What Makes Kemi Badenoch The Potential Tory Leader?

Kemi Badenoch, first generation immigrant from Nigeria, may be the next Conservative Party leader as Rishi Sunak resigns

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What Makes Kemi Badenoch The Potential Tory Leader?

Kemi Badenoch, first generation immigrant from Nigeria, may be the next Conservative Party leader as Rishi Sunak resigns
Kemi Badenoch

Several factors make Kemi Badenoch a potential future leader of the UK’s Conservative Party. Before we delve into those reasons, let’s first understand why the Tories are in search of a new leader.

On July 5, Rishi Sunak announced his resignation as Prime Minister and leader of the Tory party, apologizing to the nation and the Tories after a significant loss to the Labour Party. The Conservative Party’s resounding defeat opened up the race to replace Rishi Sunak as the leader.

Following the defeat, prominent potential frontrunners suffered unexpected losses. For example, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt lost her Portsmouth North seat to Labour, despite holding a previous majority of 15,780. Another case was Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who also lost to Labour in Welwyn Hatfield. These unexpected losses reshaped the pool of potential successors and raised questions about the party’s future leadership.

This turn of events has elevated Kemi Badenoch as a top potential candidate to replace Rishi Sunak. But who is she and what qualifications make her suitable for the role?

Meet Badenoch

Born Olukemi Olufunto Adegoke, Kemi Badenoch was appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities on July 8, 2024.

She was born on January 2, 1980, in Wimbledon, London, to Nigerian Yoruba parents. Badenoch is one of three siblings. Her mother, Feyi Adegoke, was a professor of physiology, while her father was a General Practitioner. Badenoch spent her early years in Lagos, Nigeria, and the United States, where her mother was a lecturer.

At the age of 16, Badenoch returned to the UK and lived with a family friend due to Nigeria’s deteriorating political and economic situation. In her first speech in parliament, she described herself as a first-generation immigrant

The Odds Are in Her Favor

Rishi Sunak resigns as Prime Minister of Great Britain after a historic loss. Source: Flickr

Following Rishi Sunak’s resignation announcement, UK bookmakers have positioned Kemi Badenoch as the frontrunner to become the next Conservative leader, with odds of 2/1. Oddschecker, an odds comparison site, reported on July 5th that Badenoch was the most popular choice among bettors. Other favored candidates include former cabinet ministers Priti Patel and Tom Tugendhat.

As of now, no Conservative MP has officially declared their candidacy for the leadership position. Notably, previous potential frontrunners Penny Mordaunt and Grant Shapps are no longer in contention, having lost their parliamentary seats in the election.

Experience

While some other potential frontrunners lost their seats as Labour secured victories across much of the country, Kemi Badenoch managed to retain her seat in North West Essex. Badenoch, who has served as the women and equalities minister since October 2022, secured her position with 19,360 votes. Although her majority has been significantly reduced, she maintained a lead of 2,610 votes over her nearest rival.

Kemi Badenoch also served as the Trade Secretary during Sunak and Truss’s time as PM. Her performance in the 2022 leadership race was notable, establishing her as a serious candidate.

Strategic Position

During the 2022 Tory leadership race, Kemi Badenoch’s rivals included Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, and Penny Mordaunt. Sunak replaced Liz Truss as Tory Leader and PM after Truss’s short 50-day tenure as the PM. Mordaunt cannot bid for the position due to her loss of the Portsmouth North seat, leaving Badenoch as the only strong contender from that race.

Nevertheless, other potential contenders include Robert Jenrick, Suella Braverman, Priti Patel, James Cleverly, Tom Tugendhat, Victoria Atkins, Jeremy Hunt, and Iain Duncan Smith.

L-R: Kemi Badenoch, Robert Jenrick, and Suella Braverman | Source: The i

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