A Catholic MP has thrown his hat in the ring to be the next Prime Minister following the downfall of Boris Johnson.
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Kent, announced his intention to stand as leader of the Government on the on the same day Mr Johnson resigned from office.
A former soldier and journalist and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Tugendhat promised to lower taxes and a “military-style” effort to crack down on “evil” cross-Channel people traffickers.
“Taxes, bluntly, are too high and there is an emerging consensus across the party that they must come down,” he said in the Daily Telegraph when he announced his candidacy.
He said: “The cost of living crisis is also a national security issue. Since Vladimir Putin’s savage invasion of Ukraine, we have woken up to the need to secure British supply chains and maintain and build the strength of our armed forces in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world.
He continued: “Security abroad is not enough. At home we need to get a grip on the major issues that threaten our way of life – the scourge of crime becoming an everyday phenomenon and the spectre of illegal immigration enabled by evil human traffickers.
“My view is clear – our great country is built on a principle of fairness – that your hard-earned rewards won’t be stolen from you, and that crime – in any form – is unacceptable.
“More than ever, we need a military-style effort to grip these issues. We can solve them – especially with more police on the streets – but only if we get serious.”
Mr Tugendhat, who is of Jewish ancestry, studied Theology at Bristol University before his career in the military and in Parliament.
He is the son of Sir Michael Tugendhat, the former senior High Court judge who once likened attempts to banish Christianity from the public square as a “form of oppression” almost as bad as the Tudor-era persecutions.
Mr Tugendhat has served as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee since 2017 and in February called for a “blanket explusion” of all Russian citizens from the UK in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
On social issues, Mr Tugendhat has voted in support of the legal redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples and against the legalisation of assisted suicide.
Other declared candidates in the leadership race include Penny Mordaunt, the International Trade Minister who was educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic School Academy, Waterlooville, Hampshire, but who is fighting allegations that she is “woke”, and Kemi Badenoch, a Christian who is married to a Catholic and who resigned as Local Government Minister the day before Mr Johnson stepped down.
They include Rehman Chishti, who quit as Tory Party vice-chairman under Theresa May because of the Government’s refusal to offer a haven to Asia Bibi, the Pakistan Christian mother facing a death sentence for allegedly blaspheming against Islam; Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary and a committed Anglican, and Suella Braverman, the Attorney General for England and Wales;
They also include former Health Secretary Sajid Javid; Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, former Chancellors Rishi Sunak and Nadhim Zahawi, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Mr Johnson announced his resignation on July 7 following a mutiny of 59 government ministers over his response to allegations that Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher sexually had assaulted two men in a London club.
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said that Mr Johnson lost credibility because he misled colleagues.
“He has been like Trump – a larger than life character,” said Bishop Egan. “His big political achievement was the controversial thing of Brexit.
“To me he seemed to lack a clear moral compass and the sleaze and prevarication of the last month has completely undermined his authority and his resignation became inevitable,” said Bishop Egan.
The bishop added that the crisis should inspire the UK to reflect upon the values that were upheld by figures in public life.
“Whoever is the next Prime Minister needs to engage with or collaborate with faith leaders in order that we have a more intelligent and open public discussion about values – common values and moral probity,” he added. “Catholic social teaching gives us a really good basis for that kind of discussion.
Mr Johnson was baptised into the Catholic faith by his late mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, but chose to worship as an Anglican when he went to Eton College.
He married his third wife Carrie Symonds, a Catholic, in Westminster Cathedral in May 2021 and his sixth child, Wilfrid, baptised there by Fr Daniel Humpheys in the following September.
Mr Johnson has since refused to either confirm or deny whether he has become a Catholic, but recently has issued statement in support of same-sex ideology and gender reassignments clinics and he was also critical of the decision of U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion up to birth a constitutional right.
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