Kemi Badenoch reveals she once blocked her own husband becoming an MP

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·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch blocked her husband from running as an MP. (HM Treasury)

Kemi Badenoch has emerged as the surprise package in the Tory leadership race as the contest enters its final stages.

The former equalities minister and Brexiteer has had a meteoric rise since Boris Johnson's resignation - emerging as the second most popular candidate among the 200,000 members of the Conservative Party, who will have the final say on who emerges victorious.

Only Penny Mordaunt, now the bookies' favourite, ranks above her.

As one of the lesser-known candidates, Badenoch has come under pressure to demonstrate her leadership credentials.

Speaking at an online hustings on Friday, Badnoch was asked what she would do as party leader, replying said she would make "realistic promises" in order to "earn and build trust" with voters.

Read more: Just 11% of public recognise Tory leadership favourite Penny Mordaunt (and some thought she was Adele)

Attempting to position herself as the kind of no-nonsense leader the Tory membership is often fond of, she also said it was important politicians "go above and beyond the standards" expected of others.

"I use the example of when I was vice chairman of [Tory MP] candidates," she said.

"The first thing I did when I took on that role was I threw my husband off the list because I didn’t think it would look good when I was chair of candidates and he was applying for seats.

"I recognised that there was a potential conflict of interest there. And even though I wasn’t required to, I took additional steps to show that this was something that I took seriously in terms of uniting the party and the country."

Badenoch has attempted to market herself as a straight-talking politician without the "baggage" that more senior MPs in the race have.

Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, and Kemi Badenoch are the remaining candidates in the Tory leadership election. (PA)

"I do not have cabinet experience - but that means that I don't have the baggage of many of the decisions... [that have been] taken over the last few years.

"I will be able to take the country in a new direction."

However, she did concede during the hustings that one of her weaknesses was her sense of humour coming across as "flippant" or "offensive" at times - which she pledged to work on.

On the policy front, Badenoch has said she would support lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”.

She has also heavily criticised "identity politics" and has claimed the police spend too much time dealing with "hurt feelings online".

Read more: Tory leadership race: How the vote works and what date will it end?

Alongside Badenoch, there are now four candidates left in the leadership race: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Mordaunt, and Tom Tugendhat.

Despite Badenoch's popularity in the party, however, she has come under pressure to withdraw from the contest to back Truss - with the right-wing of the Tory party claiming it is the only way to stop Sunak and Mordaunt making it to the final two.

Sunak has been described as a "socialist chancellor" by some senior Tory MPs due to his spending and taxation as chancellor, with Mordaunt accused of being weak on women's rights for previously stating trans-women are women - which has angered the Tory right.

Watch: Kemi Badenoch: In profile

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