Kemi Badenoch would be a dangerous choice as Tory leader – which is why she might win

Kemi Badenoch

We thought that when the Conservatives started fighting within their own party, it would be really intense. However, we were surprised when the candidate in the lead started a harsh and personal assault just five days in.

But Kemi Badenoch spoke up. During the initial gathering of the new shadow cabinet led by Rishi Sunak, she reportedly criticized his choice to announce an early election - as well as his failure in managing the campaign effectively.

Sunak was praised for his decision to remain as leader of the opposition, a move which Badenoch believed was the correct choice. However, he was then criticized to his face for not consulting the cabinet about the election date, with some suggesting it was nearly unconstitutional. Badenoch also criticized his early return from the D-Day commemorations, calling it disastrous and implying that Penny Mordaunt would have kept her seat if he had stayed longer in France. She claimed to be voicing the concerns of MPs, especially former ministers who lost their seats.

She mentioned that a lot of Conservative party members were shocked and disturbed, and that the ex-home secretary seemed to be experiencing a highly visible emotional breakdown.

Badenoch concluded the rant by emphasizing the need for secrecy in shadow cabinet meetings - only for her words to be revealed in full in The Times shortly after.

This is a unique approach to running a leadership campaign. It is particularly surprising if you are in the lead, as one would typically expect you to take a more cautious approach. Additionally, if you are known for being outspoken, one might assume that you would also demonstrate professionalism and collaboration.

However, if the Conservatives ultimately select Badenoch as their leader, they can expect her to be outspoken and unfiltered when criticizing the Labour government. She will also not hesitate to speak bluntly to members of her own party, potentially upsetting some of her allies.

She presents a risky option, as she is prone to engaging in disputes, possibly on her personal Twitter account, and she could potentially alienate a large portion of the voters crucial for the Conservatives to win the next election.

Many members of the party appreciate that quality in her and are willing to take a chance, instead of choosing the less exciting options of Tom Tugendhat and James Cleverly, or the more expected right-wing ideas of Priti Patel.

An investigation of Conservative party members revealed on Wednesday that she is currently the top choice among the individuals who will ultimately choose the leader, as long as the leadership regulations remain unchanged. The Party Members Project, conducted by Professor Tim Bale at Queen Mary, University of London, and researchers at Sussex University, discovered that 31 percent of members favored Badenoch, which was double the 16 percent supporting Suella Braverman.

However, leadership campaigns within political parties tend to develop momentum and dynamics of their own. If this particular campaign lasts for an extended period, as many believe it should, unexpected events and outcomes may unfold.

Currently, Braverman's main supporter, John Hayes, has switched sides to join Robert Jenrick's campaign. Jenrick, who has 7 percent support in the members' poll, is actually ahead of Patel, who has 6 percent support. Patel was being praised by several Tory MPs, particularly those in the One Nation wing of the party, as a potential unity candidate who could unite the party.

I believe Tory members will respond to the election loss by strengthening the beliefs that led to Liz Truss becoming prime minister two years ago. Braverman is clearly optimistic that this could be her moment. She is currently the only candidate for leadership who has expressed openness to Nigel Farage joining the Tory party.

Bale's research shows that party members are split down the middle on the issue of merging with Reform UK. However, it seems that Badenoch, the daring and impulsive lawmaker, could be seen as the defiant choice for a party that feels let down by Sunak and other Conservative MPs.

Perhaps confronting Sunak directly, fully aware that it would be made public, was exactly what Badenoch required to kickstart her campaign for leadership on a high note.

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