Tugendhat says ‘Can I answer’ after being interrupted by Ed Balls
Mr Tugendhat, a committed Remainer is currently priced at 8-1 to emerge top of the pile following Boris Johnson’s resignation last week, according to bookmakers Paddy Power, with a total of eight people left in the race, including ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. However, a report, published by Facts4EU today, suggested his continental connections made the former British army officer, who holds duel British/French citizenship and whose mother was French, unsuitable for the job. His wife once worked as an adviser for her country’s Government in the midst of the Brexit negotiations and is currently a legal counsellor for the French Embassy in the UK
Facts4EU Chairman Leigh Evans wrote: “We are compelled to ask a serious question. Is it remotely credible – or indeed right – to have as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom a man who holds dual French-British nationality?
“Indeed, should not all Members of the United Kingdom Parliament be British and British alone?
“Secondly, is it appropriate to have a PM whose French wife works for Emmanuel Macron’s government?
“Mme Anissia Morel-Tugendhat has the absolute right to pursue her career working for the French state as she wishes.
Tom Tugendhat is seeking the Conservative Party leadership
Tom Tugendhat speaks at his campaign launch
“The problem arises, however, when she is also the wife of someone who would inhabit No.10 Downing Street.”
With the exception of Brexit, Facts4EU rarely covered domestic politics in respect of Britain, and neither did he and his colleagues write about the personal lives of politicians, Mr Evans stressed.
However he added: “When faced with the choice of who is going to be the UK’s next Prime Minister, however, things are slightly different.
“This is particularly true when some of the difficult decisions about delivering Brexit in full have yet to be made – and when Rejoiners are massing to drag us back into the EU piece-by-piece.
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Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Minister, is backing Mr Tugendhat
Referring to the Tonbridge and Malling MP’s well-known opposition to Brexit, which prompted him to campaign for Remain in 2016, Mr Evans added: “Now we know why Tom Tugendhat was a Remainer.
“Whilst Tom Tugendhat has said he now accepts Brexit, we must ask “On what terms?” Here is a man who was an ardent Remainer – unsurprisingly given his own and his immediate family’s circumstances.
“He was one of those who continued to work to keep the UK as closely aligned to the EU as possible, long after the largest democratic vote in British history should have told him to do the opposite.
“Tom Tugendhat undoubtedly has experience in foreign affairs. However he has never held ministerial office, let alone been a Cabinet Minister.”
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Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor, is also in the running
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also thrown her hat in the ring
For us, having someone who holds French nationality in No 10 is an absolute red line
Mr Evans said: “As far as we can see he has no experience of home affairs, nor of economic matters. At a time when we are undergoing a cost of living crisis, a rapidly escalating problem of illegal immigration, energy security worries, as well as confronting serious issues around freedom of speech and ‘cancel culture’ in our society, where is the ‘real world experience’ which he told the BBC he has?
“Undoubtedly he is an intelligent man. He would be strong on Putin, on China, and on Iran. The problem is that this is as far as it goes.
“And for us, having someone who holds French nationality in No 10 is an absolute red line.”
Tory MP Aaron Bell today handed in the nomination papers for Tom Tugendhat’s leadership bid to Tory 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, indicating he had the support of the 20 MPs required to go into the contest.
UK Prime Ministers factfile
He said: “Tom is now the first candidate to be duly nominated.”
Earlier, explaining his reasons for standing, Mr Tugendhat said the UK must not “retreat” economically and politically as he promised tax cuts to help ease the cost-of-living crisis and a “clean start” following the scandal-hit Boris Johnson years.
He added: “In a moment that is so desperate for so many – and when our service is most needed – we have retreated.
“We have retreated into the pettiness of a politics that is more about personality than principle.
Aaron Bell MP handed in Mr Tugendhat’s nomination papers today
“We have retreated into division when we desperately need unity.
“When our nation needed our party to function, we retreated into faction.
“When the moment demanded service, we delivered scandal. I cannot accept retreat.”
Mr Tugendhat has been approached for comment about Facts4EU’s report.