Who is Tom Tugendhat? Tonbridge and Malling MP tipped to be next Prime Minister


Kent MP Tom Tugendhat is tipped by many to become the next Prime Minister. But what do we know about him? Political editor Paul Francis reports.

Ask most politicians if they want to become Prime Minister and they will palm off the question with some waffle about there not being a vacancy.

Tom Tugendhat speaking in the Common today.  Image: Parliament TV
Tom Tugendhat speaking in the Common today. Image: Parliament TV

This false modesty generally fools no-one. Others are more direct, choosing candor over obfuscation.

Tom Tugendhat, the former soldier and Tonbridge and Malling MP, is among those who opt for full disclosure.

In a recent interview, he said it would be a “huge privilege” to serve as prime minister, a job he once described as like winning the lottery.

He also said it was a duty of an MP to put themselves forward as a leadership candidate if they felt they could assemble and lead a team to do so.

He added that anyone who would be able to garner support should “go for it” and it was “up to all of us to put ourselves forward”.

The admission saw the odds on his succeeding Boris Johnson slashed to 8/1.

Tom Tugendhat during his time serving with the Royal Marines as an intelligence officer
Tom Tugendhat during his time serving with the Royal Marines as an intelligence officer

Appealing to a sense of duty is characteristic of the man that many feel has the right credentials to lead the country. He has already secured the backing of one of his Kent colleagues, Ashford MP Damian Green.

Since succeeding Sir John Stanley as the MP for a constitution that is about as safe a seat as you can get he has seen his reputation grow.

Elected as an MP in 2015, He is among the new generation of Conservatives considered to be on the more progressive wing of their party.

In a decade-long stint in the British Army he served during the Iraq War and in Afghanistan. He also served, in a civilian capacity, for the Foreign Office in Afghanistan and helped set up the National Security Council of Afghanistan and the government in Helmand Province.

It is this experience which has given him the kind of transferable leadership skills.

It also saw him split opinion with a ‘dad joke’ Tweet about his four-year-old daughter’s Valentine’s admirer. I posted the above photo with the caption “My four-year old daughter just got a Valentine’s Day card. This photograph is posted here for Louis. Yes, you know who you are.”

Some followers branded it “weird” and “inappropriate” while others accused them of losing their sense of humor.

Tom Tugendhat and Michael Gove dance at the Tory party conference Picture: @johnjohnstonmi
Tom Tugendhat and Michael Gove dance at the Tory party conference Picture: @johnjohnstonmi

At last year’s Conservative conference he was filmed spinning Michael Gove around the dance floor as Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody blared out

He has proven an effective inquisitor in his role as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and has not held back when it comes to criticizing his own government.

His devastating intervention in the Commons over the government handling of the Afghan refugee crisis was widely acclaimed.

Listened to in silence by his fellow MPs he spoke about his struggle through anger and grief and rage at what he described as the “abandonment of a country.”

He supported the campaign to remain in the EU and remained loyal to Theresa May and Boris Johnson on Brexit.

His support for tougher sentences for child abusers succeeded in persuading the government to change the law.

Tony Hudgell, from Kings Hill, with Tom Tugendhat Picture: Paula Hudgell
Tony Hudgell, from Kings Hill, with Tom Tugendhat Picture: Paula Hudgell

The subsequent Tony’s Law was named after his constituent Tony Hudgell, now seven, who lost both legs after being tortured by his parents.

If he chooses to stand, he will find plenty of supporters but this opening for the top job may have come too soon. If there is one gap in his political CV, it is that he has yet to have any experience serving as a minister.

Some may see that as an asset rather than a deficiency, of course. And in what could potentially be a crowded field of candidates, it is not always the favorite who wins.


www.kentonline.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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