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Conservative MEPs challenge leadership contenders

CHANGES: London

CONSERVATIVES PEERS, Conservative Members of the European Parliament and key figures on racial equality and diversity issues have written to each Conservative leadership contender to ask if they will sign up to five diversity pledges if elected as Leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister.

It was during the 2005 leadership contest, that Baroness Anne Jenkin and The Rt Hon Theresa May MP challenged leadership candidates to modernise the party and improve female representation. Women2Win was founded, with the Rt Hon David Cameron becoming one of its most ardent supporters. During his leadership, female Conservative MP numbers went from 17 in 2005 to 68 in 2015.

The Conservative Party went backwards on BAME representation at the last General Election. In 2017, the Conservative Party selected only five BAME candidates to stand in their top 100 target seats (half the number chosen in 2015) and none won their seat.

The 2017 General Election Review undertaken by Sir Eric Pickles recommended a training programme for BAME candidates. Baroness Jenkin, Baroness Berridge and other peers, MPs and MEPs have supported the ideas developed by lawyer and social activist Zehra Zaidi to improve BAME representation and with a renewed focus on policy and outreach. A new sister organisation to Women2Win will be created called Diversity2Win.

Baroness Jenkin stated: “If the Conservative Party is to win the next general election, we have to win votes beyond our traditional core. We must improve our vote share amongst Britain’s ethnic communities. We must look more like the country that we seek to represent.

“We have considerable BAME talent in our candidates and activists base. We can support these exceptional people get selected for office and together, help deliver Conservative policies for a modern Britain.”

Baroness Berridge added: “Despite progress on ethnic diversity, there is much more that the Government and the Conservative Party need to do to ensure we reflect the people and focus on the issues in the country that we seek to serve.”

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