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Council leader Ben Bradley backing Kemi Badenoch for new Tory leader

Ben Bradley has confirmed he is backing the minister who announced the Government is ‘minded’ to intervene at Nottingham City Council as the next Prime Minister and leader of the party. 

The Conservative Mansfield MP and Nottinghamshire County Council leader announced over the weekend he is backing former equalities and local government minister Kemi Badenoch for the top job.

Mrs Badenoch, the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, resigned from her role in the levelling up department last week alongside dozens of Government colleagues amid concerns over Boris Johnson’s leadership.

She has since thrown her hat into the ring to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and has already received the backing of several high-profile Tories – including her former Levelling Up boss Michael Gove.

Mr Bradley describes Mrs Badenoch as “incredibly strong and brave on some really difficult issues” and believes she would offer “unimpeachable integrity” as Prime Minister.

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He also says her experience within the Levelling Up department, which oversees local leaders’ ongoing negotiations for a devolution deal, would provide benefits to the wider East Midlands.

 

Cllr Bradley said: “Kemi has been a local government minister, which is really important to me obviously because I’m the leader of the council.

“We’ve been working on so many projects for a long time, not least our devolution work and trying to bring more powers and funding to our area.

“Kemi backs that, she’s been a local government minister most recently and we got a really generous settlement from her and her department in November.

“I know she gets these issues; she understands the issue around funding social care as we’ve had those conversations directly.

“I’m confident that, if she becomes Prime Minister, we’d get that continuity to deliver on those priorities we’ve been working on.”

Lee Anderson, his neighbouring Conservative MP in Ashfield, has also announced himself as a supporter of the former local government minister.

It was Mrs Badenoch who, in this role, announced last month the Government is minded to intervene at the Labour-led Nottingham City Council following a series of financial problems at the authority.

These include the collapse of the Robin Hood Energy company, estimated to cost city taxpayers £38m, and mismanaged Housing Revenue Accounts funds of almost £40m being transferred into the wrong account.

Last week Cllr David Mellen (Lab), leader of the city council, confirmed the authority has set out its case against the Government appointing commissioners to take over the authority.

But acting in her former capacity as local government minister, Mrs Badenoch said last month: “Nottingham City Council is failing to comply with its Best Value duty.

“[The Government] is therefore minded to exercise Best Value powers under the Local Government Act 1999 and appoint commissioners.”

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has the backing of Nottinghamshire MPs Mark Spencer, Robert Jenrick and Ruth Edwards, is currently the bookies’ favourite to win the contest.

He will battle his successor Nadhim Zahawi, former health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, current transport secretary Grant Shapps and current foreign secretary Liz Truss – who is supported by Broxtowe MP Darren Henry.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt, attorney general Suella Braverman and backbench MPs Tom Tugendhat and Rehman Chishti are also in the running.

Senior Tories confirmed on Monday evening the longlist should be narrowed down to two candidates by the end of the week before about 160,000 Conservative Party members vote to elect the new leader over the summer.

The leadership contest is then expected to conclude on September 5 when the United Kingdom will have a new Prime Minister.

•  Councillors say Government’s plan to bring in commissioner as ‘vindictive political act’

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