Downing Street

Who’s next?

By Will Hanford-Spira 7 June 2019 6 minute read

It’s game on in the race to lead the Tory party. With odds changing daily and the race well underway, we take a look at the charity CVs of those applying for today’s top job in politics.

It’s fair to say Theresa May’s premiership was less fruitful for the social sector than hoped for. Whoever takes the reigns will need to heal our country after the divisions of Brexit, and we believe charities should be at the heart.



Boris Johnson

The bookies’ favourite, Boris is well known for his love of all things ancient. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of Classics for All, an education charity funding classics lessons in state schools.

In his constituency, he is patron of Hillingdon’s Brain Tumour and Injury Group, a health charity which helps patients, carers, friends and family to live as full a life as possible.

Back when he was Mayor of London, Boris launched the social mobility charity The Mayors Fund for London, promoting wellbeing, skills, employment and enterprise among young Londoners from low income backgrounds. The charity now has London’s current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, as its patron.


Dominic Raab

Former Brexit Secretary, Dominic helped set up the Elmbridge Community Fund in his constituency. The fund supports local charities and community projects and encourages the pooling of donations to maximise impact. This kind of place-based approach is something we are very interested in, and was at the heart of the Government’s civil society strategy.


Esther McVey

A champion of blue collar conservatism, Esther lived in foster care for the first two years of her life, looked after by children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Midway through her first term, Esther founded If Chloe Can, a career development charity for young women and girls. The aim is to widen young women’s horizons to the opportunities in the modern economy, careers which they may otherwise have dismissed as “not for people like me”. Participants build confidence, assertiveness and resilience through the advice, role models and workshops provided.


Michael Gove

It was Michael’s entry to the 2016 leadership race that prompted Boris to pull out. This time it seems there is room for the two of them after all. A former journalist, Michael was once chairman of centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, a registered charity whose research includes employment, poverty, social mobility and public services.


Andrea Leadsom

Andrea’s withdrawal from the last leadership race made Theresa May Prime Minister, and her no less dramatic exit from Cabinet sealed May’s downfall. Prior to politics, Andrea was chair of trustees for the Oxford Parent Infant Project, a charity for families struggling to form a secure bond with their new-born babies.

After her election, she set up a sister charity in her constituency, the Northamptonshire Parent Infant Partnership. The following year she established Parent Infant Project UK, a foundation offering practical and financial support to new Parent Infant Projects around the country.


Penny Mordaunt

A socially liberal Brexiter, Penny was previously the Director of Diabetes UK. She expanded the charity, setting up services in developing countries. She is now a patron of the Victoria Cross Trust, a trustee of the Wymering Manor Trust, and a Scouting Ambassador for Portsmouth. Penny previously ran the League of Friends visiting team at Queen Alexandra Hospital.


Jeremy Hunt

Historically, Conservative Prime Ministers have often handed over to one of the big three offices of state. As Foreign Secretary, Jeremy will be hoping this continues. Prior to politics, Jeremy set up the Hotcourses Foundation, backed by his publishing business. The foundation supports the charity Nyumbani to provide schooling to HIV+ children in Kenya who were treated as outcasts. Jeremy remains a board member.


Sajid Javid

The Home Office made Theresa May, could it do the same for Sajid? Since 2015 Sajid has hosted jobs fairs in his constituency, bringing together employers across the private, public and charity sectors. Prior to his election, Sajid was a trustee of the London Early Years Foundation, continuing until joining the government in 2012.


Matt Hancock

If playing cricket at the North Pole for Cancer Research UK doesn’t count as going the extra mile we’re not sure what does. Matt was previously Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; a brief which includes civil society strategy.


Rory Stewart

A prolific writer and traveller, Rory has a backstory unlike any other candidate. His diplomatic work in the Middle East and Central Asia led to him establishing the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, at the request of the Prince of Wales and President Karzai. The foundation regenerates urban areas by renewing traditional arts and architecture.


Mark Harper

Mark is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability, run by health charity Mencap. The Group’s priorities include improving access to health, social care, education, work and benefits. Mark served as a school governor prior to his election in 2005.


Steve Baker

A prominent member of the ERG, Steve was a vocal critic of Theresa May. Steve helped set up education charity The Cobden Centre, which argues for honest money as integral to social progress. He is an associate consultant for the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank established by Ian Duncan Smith. In his constituency Steve has worked with the Wycombe Winter Night Shelter since before his election.


Sam Gyimah

The second referendum candidate, Sam is a Vice-President of Young Epilepsy, a children’s health charity working to create a centre of excellence for SEN education, to influence policy, and to support pioneering research. He has previously served as governor of an inner-London school.


Graham Brady

As chair of the 1922 committee, Graham would have led the ‘grey suits’ in persuading Theresa May to stand down. In his constituency, Graham is patron of the Counselling and Family Centre, a supporter of learning disabilities charity Stockdales, and a trustee of his local community centre. He once worked at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank.


And when it’s all over?

One of the truisms of the Conservative Party is that the favourite rarely seems to win at the end. It’s a crowded field and throwing one’s hat into the ring has been very much in vogue. Many will drop out, but they will likely win a powerful job regardless.

It’s unlikely that the ‘game of thrones’ in Westminster will be getting less vicious any time soon, but it’s reassuring to see that many of today’s favourites have solid experience of either starting a charity, running a charity, or leading fundraising for social good. Many will also be involved in individual events and initiatives in their constituency in addition to what’s been listed here.

Health and education charities stand out as popular among these MPs, especially local. We believe MPs are well placed to use their position to bring local initiatives together in support of place-based approaches in their constituencies.

The most prominent question will of course remain that which has toppled the last four Conservative Prime Ministers. As Brexit turns to the next chapter, how a new leader involves charities will be critical to bringing our country back together. Our free upcoming event on the 11th of September is an opportunity for us to discuss as a sector the momentous challenges ahead, and how we should gear up to shape the agenda. Book now.