Members of Parliament who have a record of military might are fast emerging as contenders who could propel Britain’s next Prime Minister to power.
As a leadership race looms amid Prime Minister Theresa May‘s compromising with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, a number of MPs with military backgrounds are been preened by rival candidates who are seeking support.
Desirable skills such as being willing to take risks and thinking ahead are seen as key assets to any leadership campaign and will come in good stead in a post Brexit period, which is set to be extremely challenging for the party.
Leading candidates to support those vying for leadership include all-round hero Tobias Ellwood who in 2017 tried to save the life of PC Keith Palmer when he was stabbed by Khalid Masood during the Westminster terror attack.
Tobias Ellwood (pictured above) is an MP for Bournemouth and has served in Northern Ireland
Tobias Ellwood is reportedly being touted by Boris Johnson (pictured above) as well as Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove
Mr Ellwood is currently a defence minister and is being actively courted by a number of key leadership contenders including Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, of whom he previously worked with at the foreign office.
The 52-year-old is a Lieutenant Colonel with the 77th reservists and is being touted as a possible candidate for Defence Secretary.
A source said that the MP for Bournemouth who served in Northern Ireland as well as Bosnia and Germany was a big name on ‘every wannabe PM’s hit list’.
Speaking to the Telegraph they said: ‘The support of someone like Tobias can help to bring a lot of MPs across. Boris is very keen on landing him, as are Gove and Hunt although many aren’t ruling out him putting his own hat into the ring.’
Another hopeful is James Cleverly, who was this week promoted to become Brexit minister.
James Cleverly (pictured above) is the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and has been scouted by leadership hopefuls
In 1991 he was commissioned into the Territorial Army and rose through the ranks to become a major in 2003.
Before standing for political office he had been selected as a candidate for Bexley and Bromley in 2007.
Mr Cleverly had worked for the Greater London Authority while Boris Johnson had been Mayor, with many touting his support of the foreign secretary’s leadership bid a given.
One of his main appeals is his ability to reach out to young Conservatives. He acted as Mayor Johnson’s ‘Youth Ambassador’ as is said to boast great grassroots connections.
The 49-year-old father-of-two was born to a British father and a mother from Sierra Leona and is the MP for Braintree.
One of his best-selling points however is his ability to handle media interviews and his social media presence. He has been known to take no prisoners when it comes to tearing down other party’s polices and one MP previously referred to him as an ‘attack dog’.
‘He can be brutal. You’d want him on your team and not anyone else’s. He’s a very committed Tory and very good at making the arguments eloquently and with passion. Downing Street often sends him on Good Morning Britain because no one else is brave enough to take on Piers Morgan.’
Another ex-military man who is also a hit with the media, but has no ministerial experience is 37-year-old Johnny Mercer.
Johnny Mercer has previously said that many veterans accessing mental health care services feel that ‘they don’t really matter’ and that the Government ‘just doesn’t get it’
He did three tours of Afghanistan and has previously starred on Channel 4’s Celebrity Hunted alongside Sky News’ Kay Burley.
The MP for Plymouth Moor View recently described the government has a ‘s*** show’ and hit out at colleagues had briefed against the Prime Minister anonymously insisting that they should lose their anonymity or ‘shut the f*** up’.
A fellow party member said that Mr Mercer is a rising star in the party but that he is completely untested.
‘He goes on the media and mouths off because he can as a backbencher. But he’s the kind of guy that needs to be given a ministerial post so he can be given the chance to put his money where his mouth is.’
Tom Tugendhat (pictured above was elected in 2015
Another ex-military man, who has been tipped as a future Prime Minister – despite ministerial experience is chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat.
The 45-year-old, who once changed his daughter’s nappy during a BBC interview had risen through the army ranks to become a lieutenant colonel with the Intelligence Corps, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was elected MP in 2015 for Tonbridge and Malling and fellow Tories have said he has a lot of potential.
One MP said: ‘He’s being courted by the leadership rivals because he shown so much potential as a committee chairman. Tom also talked about as a potential leader but having not yet held a cabinet post, many think it is too soon.’
Another rising star is Rory Stewart, who with limited army experience compared to the other rising stars is sought after due to his work with the UK Diplomatic Service.
He is was admired as Britain’s representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo crisis and in Iraq following the 2003 invasion.
However, the fact that he had once been a member of the Labour party could stand in his way. As well as the fact that he is a prominent remainer.
Rory Stewart served for a very brief period in the military as an infantry officer