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The Deputy Prime Minister has raised some eyebrows after it was revealed who his preferred candidate to lead the Tory Party aside from Rishi Sunak would be.

Oliver Dowden told his constituents that he believed Health Secretary Victoria Atkins was the only other “star of his generation” to be Conservative party leader aside from Rishi Sunak.

A leaked recording from the event last December revealed his choice, while the Health Secretary did not deny rumours she could run when asked by reporters at an election event. She said she was currently “not entertaining” questions about her leadership while campaigning for the general election. 

In the recording obtained by the i, Dowden said: “This is honestly the truth, when people ask me when I entered Parliament, ‘who are the two stars, who are the stars of your generation?’ I said there’s only two people from my generation that I could see leading the Conservative Party: Rishi Sunak or Vicky Atkins.”

Atkins was a special guest at the event and responded to the comments with “wow!”

The preferential choice was met with some disdain online, as Atkins has faced criticism over her handling of NHS workers strikes, with ongoing industrial action by junior doctors into the election campaign, and after she insulted junior doctors by describing them as ‘doctors in training’ and managed to also anger dentists by implying they’d rather do cosmetic dentistry for the money. 

One X user said: “They are now desperate, aren’t they??”

While another responded: “I promise this is for real………. it is not a parody account – No wonder the Tories that are going to be left are desperate to keep Dowden away from anywhere near power.”

Someone else said: “Oliver Dowden has picked his choice for the next leader of the Conservative Party and it is Victoria Atkins who doesn’t know what a Junior Doctor is, or that A&E doesn’t have dentists.

“There is no hope for them.”

A number of Tory MPs seem to be preparing themselves for a future leadership battle in the Conservative party post-election, including contenders Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman with Tory leadership campaign websites recently appearing in their names.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

The post Deputy Prime Minister’s top choice for next Tory leader revealed appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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