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Tory Leadership: Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti out of contest after failing to secure enough nominations

A Kent MP has bowed out of the Tory leadership contest just two days after entering the race.

Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti failed to secure any public supporters and so did not reach the threshold of nominations required to stand to be the next Conservative Party leader.

Gillingham MP Rehman Chishti is out of the race.
Gillingham MP Rehman Chishti is out of the race.

The former barrister's bid to become Prime Minister had raised eyebrows with his candidacy prompting a series of tweets enquiring as to who he was.

Unlike his rivals, Mr Chishti ditched the glossy campaign video in favour of a "bottom-up" bid and set out his vision for a "fresh start" in a social media video.

Announcing his bid online, the Medway MP said: "As someone who came to our great country at the age of six not speaking a word of English, first in the family to go to university and qualify as a barrister at 24, and a Conservative MP for the past 12 years, our country is a land of opportunity for all and I want every one to get the best chance in life."

But tonight – just two days after declaring his intention to run – the former councillor announced he had failed to achieve the level of support needed to progress.

In a statement online Mr Chishti said: "As nominations to lead our great country and our great party come to a close it is important for me again to be clear on my intentions and motivations.

"Having only started my campaign two days ago, I have given everything I possibly can in this period to step up and serve our great country.

"I based my campaign on the value I hold dear including aspirational conservatism, self-belief, resilience, and a vision base on an inclusive, fair, and just society with fresh ideas and fresh people for a fresh start.

"I believe these values are vital in moving forward with optimism and hope in these challenging times."

The backbencher described the campaign as "bottom-up" and drawing on very little resources with no campaign managers.

"I have not been able to secure the require number of nominations to formally enter the race," he added.

"I thank the 1922 Committee for all the fantastic work that they are doing in moving this transition forward as quickly as possible."

Kent MP Tom Tugendhat, left, remains in the contest but Rehman Chishti is out.
Kent MP Tom Tugendhat, left, remains in the contest but Rehman Chishti is out.

Mr Chishti says he will now "carefully look" at the remaining candidates to see which ones align with his values and vision for a "fresh start".

"I wish all the remaining candidates all the best in this campaign," he added.

Speaking to Sky News, when asked if he received any support Mr Chishti said: "I had some wonderful conversations across the board and it wouldn't be fair for me to say numbers.

"To be honest with you, I had no idea I’d be doing this. I had no idea there’d be a transition going through last week and therefore when that happened, you have to then ask yourself the question; how do you make that change and how do you bring about change?"

The MP added when the transition came through, his constituents said they thought he should 'go for it and be part of that change'.

He said: "Within two days, I hardly had any money, it was a campaign which was led by you, the campaign manager was myself, but it was about putting forward values, it was about ideas and it was about saying you have those things to offer to our country and our party."


The MP for Gillingham and Rainham previously stood as a Labour candidate in the 2005 general election before defecting to the Conservatives in 2007.

He was Tory vice-chair in 2018.

In 2020, he resigned as Boris Johnson’s special envoy for freedom of religion over the Government’s stance on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The former barrister said at the time clauses in the UK Internal Markets Bill “unilaterally break (the) UK’s legal commitments”.

Last week he was appointed as a junior foreign minister following a mass exodus from Boris Johnson’s government in protest at his leadership.

He became the second hopeful to drop out after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and was followed by the last minute exit of former health secretary Sajid Javid.

Still in the race is Kent counterpart and Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat who will be among those taking part in the first round of voting tomorrow, declaring that he has got the backing of 21 fellow MPs.

The 1922 Committee met last night to confirm the rules and timetable for replacing outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The chairman, Sir Graham Brady, said nominations would open and close on Tuesday, the first ballot would be on Wednesday and a second ballot was likely to be held on Thursday.

"We expect 20 supporters for each candidate... we'll also expect that on the first ballot any candidate to proceed must have won at least 30 votes from parliamentary colleagues," he added.

It's expected the result will be announced on September 5 .

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