9 former Conservative leadership candidates: where are they now?

Ken Clarke

A look at what past Tory leadership candidates have been up to since their failed bids to lead their party.

1. Andrea Leadsom (2016 – 2nd place)

Had Andrea Leadsom not withdrawn from the 2016 Conservative leadership contest there’s a strong chance that she would have gone on to be prime minister. During the referendum campaign, she served as the UK’s energy minister before being made Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when Theresa May took over as prime minister.

She is now Leader of the Commons, having been moved there in Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle, according to the Telegraph.

If May steps aside would Leadsom stand again?

2. Michael Gove (2016 – 3rd place)

Following nicely on from Leadsom is Michael Gove who has recently returned to the centre-court of British politics.

After the prime minister’s snap election gamble, Gove replaced Leadsom as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, according to the Guardian.

3. Stephen Crabb (2016 – 4th place)

Crabb served as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions until Theresa May came to power last July. Since then he has served from the back-benches, and has recently called for an increase in pay for many public-sector workers, according to the Guardian.

4. Liam Fox (2016 – 5th, 2005 – 3rd)

This two-time candidate has been back in government since Theresa May came to power last year, serving as Secretary of State for International Trade.

With talk of a future leadership election, one wonders if he will stand again.

5. David Davis (2005 – 2nd, 2001 – 4th)

During the Cameron’s premiership, Davis remained on the Tory backbenches, but returned to frontline British politics in 2016 as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, a newly created position.

He may not have stood in the 2016 leadership election, but political pundits and commentators have talked about him replacing Theresa May as prime minister following her failed bid to increase her party’s majority.

6. Kenneth Clarke (2005 – 4th, 2001 – 2nd, 1997 – 2nd)

This perennial leadership candidate has had a distinguished career, having served in top positions in both Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s governments.

According to ITV, he became Father of the House (of Commons) in February meaning that he is the longest-serving sitting MP, having served for almost forty years.

7. Michael Portillo (2001 – 3rd)

This former Conservative MP has gone on to have a successful career in television, regularly hosting shows about railways in Britain and Europe, with one highlight being the BBC’s “Great Continental Railway Journeys.”

Despite his non-political career, he remains political, appearing regularly on the BBC’s 'This Week' with Andrew Neil, often beside former Labour MP, Alan Johnson.

8. John Redwood (1997 – 3rd, 1995 – 2nd)

Having served in John Major’s cabinet, he went on to challenge his prime minister in 1995 – and lose – according to the BBC. Two years later he lost out to William Hague.

He has since served in the Conservative shadow cabinet, but remains on the backbenches today, having retained his seat in the recent election, according to the BBC.

9. Peter Lilley (1997 – 4th)

Like John Redwood, this Conservative MP lost out to William Hague in 1997, as reported by the BBC, and went on to serve in the Tory shadow cabinet.

He remained an MP until the 2017 general election when he decided to step down, according to ITV.