Tories express surprise at talk of Afriyie as next leader

 

A bizarre round of speculation about who might be the next Conservative party leader was set off by Tory MPs today, after admirers of the little-known backbench MP Adam Afriyie nominated him as their answer to Barack Obama.

Later, the Tory maverick Nadine Dorries gave her list of four possible future Conservative leaders, only one of whom, the Education Secretary Michael Gove, is in the Cabinet. Two others – Mr Afriyie and Jesse Norman – are backbenchers, while London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is not an MP. The Chancellor, George Osborne, was noticeably missing from her list.

The speculation began after three Tory-supporting Sunday newspapers reported a “well-organised” campaign to secure the leadership for Mr Afriyie, who was a frontbench spokesman for the Conservatives in opposition but was excluded from the government.

His backers say he has a life story that could give the Tories an appeal beyond their normal base of support, as the state-educated son of Ghanaian father and an English mother, and a self-made multi-millionaire.

Mr Afriyie said he almost choked on his breakfast cereal when he read the reports. He told Sky News: “I will never stand against David Cameron. I am 100 per cent supportive of David Cameron... There is no truth to any of it. We are working very hard to keep David Cameron secure, to make sure there is not a vacancy.”

However, he also said he and his allies had talked about “the long-term future of the party”, indicating that he sees himself as a candidate in a post-2015 leadership contest if the Tories lose the general election.

The promise not to stand against Mr  Cameron is actually meaningless, because the rules of the Conservative Party, revised after the fall of Margaret Thatcher, do not permit a direct challenge to a Tory Prime Minister, who must be felled by a vote of no confidence before an election can be held to choose a successor. The risk of that happening to Mr Cameron while he is Prime Minister appears to be remote.

Ms Dorries, who is still not officially a Tory MP, having had the whip withdrawn over her high-profile appearance on reality television, came out as a potential Afriyie supporter. She told Sky: “He’s a friend of mine and I do not believe for a second anyone close to Adam has leaked this story.

“He has got leadership potential – however, winning the next election with David Cameron in 2015 is Adam’s priority. It’s a long term objective he has – like Jesse Norman, like Boris Johnson, like Michael Gove.”

The outbreak of speculation about the leadership came as a surprise after a week when Mr Cameron had soothed his critics on the Tory right with a speech setting out how he would call a referendum on Europe in the next Parliament, and a new opinion poll showing Labour’s lead narrowing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high