Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, speaking at the Ulster Unionist Party conference in Belfast
Formerly a member of the British Army, Mr Tugendhat served in Iraq and Afghanistan (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).
UK

Who is Tom Tugendhat? The Iraq and Afghanistan veteran running for PM

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, speaking at the Ulster Unionist Party conference in Belfast
Formerly a member of the British Army, Mr Tugendhat served in Iraq and Afghanistan (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

The news that Boris Johnson is set to leave his role as Prime Minister has left the country, and the Conservative party, looking for a new leader.

Tom Tugendhat – a reserve officer – has thrown his hat in the ring to lead the country, becoming the first MP to announce their candidacy for the Prime Minister's role.

But who is he and what experience could he bring to the role?

Military service

Mr Tugendhat, 48, left the British Army in July 2013 after a career in which he served on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and, most recently, as the military assistant to the Chief of the Defence Staff.

As a Territorial Army officer, he also worked on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and established the Armed Forces Muslim Association.

When the Iraq War broke out in 2003, he was mobilised as an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer to work with the Royal Marines.

After originally deploying as part of Operation TELIC, he returned to his job in the city, but was soon asked to help with the economic reconstruction of Iraq and ran the central region, including the capital Baghdad, to distribute the finances heading into the country.

Watch: What is Boris Johnson's military legacy?

In 2005, Mr Tugendhat was asked by the Foreign Office to go to Afghanistan and help grow the National Security Council – a role that saw him advise the then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He also worked in Afghanistan as an advisor to the governor of Helmand Province and, despite returning to the UK after two years in the country, he deployed back to Helmand with his former Royal Marines unit.

He served operationally for another two years, receiving an MBE. He finished his last patrol in July 2009.

Following his time in the Middle East, Mr Tugendhat headed home to the UK where he worked on the Army Strategy Team, at the request of the Chief of the General Staff, helping to prepare for the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

When the Army chief later became head of the British Armed Forces, Mr Tugendhat served as his military assistant and principal advisor – he remains a reservist.

An interview with the Sunday Times, published 10 July, describes an element of secrecy surrounding the veteran’s career up to 2015.

"What is public is that I was an intelligence corps officer and in that role I served in various branches of the military, mostly with small units of Royal Marines, and also alongside other government departments around the world," he told the newspaper.

"Between 2003 and 2009 I was almost constantly deployed on operations. I spent a year in Iraq and four years in Afghanistan."

Watch: UK's support for Ukraine not affected by Boris Johnson's departure, says Defence Secretary.

Political career

In 2015, Mr Tugendhat was elected as MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling.

He was re-elected in 2017 and 2019.

Currently the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), Mr Tugendhat criticised the UK's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

At the time of NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan, he called the decision a "major strategic mistake".

He also said in the House of Commons the "lack of a plan was a surprise" and the "failure of integrity when discussing matters with the Select Committee was a huge surprise" during the Afghan withdrawal.

"Our enemies do not fear us and allies do not trust us," he said.

"That has been tested in Ukraine, and we are all paying for it in every gas bill and every food shop."

According to TheyWorkForYou.com, Mr Tugendhat has consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system.

He also campaigned to remain in the European Union.

Who else is running?

Other candidates who have declared they are running for the role of Conservative Party leader are former Health Secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, newly-appointed minister Rehman Chishti, ex-minister Kemi Badenoch, and former Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt.