By Joanna George
Research Associate, University of Cambridge

In a new report published by UK in a Changing Europe and Full Fact, a group of leading experts have assessed twelve policy areas that are central to the 2022 Conservative Party leadership contest. It interrogates what promises are credible and the impact of the policies being proposed. What are the implications for faith in politics if the chosen candidate is elected on false and unworkable promises?  

As the Conservative Party leadership contest continues to rumble on through the summer, UK in a Changing Europe and Full Fact have partnered up to produce a new report which provides a guide to the policy landscape. The aim of the report is to provide evidence-led and research-based assessments of the key issues in the contest so that Conservative Party members are comprehensively informed before casting their final vote which closes on 2 September. With the contenders being widely criticised for shying away from scrutiny and prioritising partisan infighting over thought-through policy that will impact the country at large in the years ahead, the report is much-welcomed for its expert analysis and thoroughness.  

The report assesses policy areas across twelve chapters: macroeconomics, tax and spend, economic inequality, education, climate and the environment, health and social care, immigration, Brexit, housing and planning, security, defence and foreign affairs, the Union and faith and trust in politics. Each area is analysed to address the following: 

  • What position will an incoming Prime Minister inherit? 
  • Immediate and long-term issues 
  • Implications of potential policy choices 

Of paramount importance to the report was honesty on policy announcements, their workability and benefit to the UK. Equally, candidates running for Conservative Party leader – and subsequently, Prime Minister – must be held to account for the claims they make. This is especially relevant in light of Boris Johnson’s premiership whose defining legacy has been its ‘bulldozing’ of trust in politics and eroding ‘citizens’ faith in democratic politics and politicians’.  

In turn, this has had a knock-on effect across all areas of policy. Within the constitutional domain, this can be demonstrated by the recent passing of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in the House of Commons which has inflamed legal and political relations with the EU. Getting to grips with all policy areas and maintaining an active and concerned interest in their detail over the long-term is emphasised throughout the report.  

Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe and Will Moy, Chief Executive of Full Fact, said:  

The intention of the collection, again, is to inform and not persuade. We hope that readers will look at it in that spirit. As an attempt to inform them about facts; an attempt to allow them to access rival political claims; and, finally, an attempt to ensure the candidates are straight with us.’ 

You can access the full report ‘The Conservative Leadership Contest: A Guide to the Policy Landscape’ here.