In a surprising announcement overnight, housing minister Kit Malthouse says he is standing to become the Conservative party leader and next Prime Minister.
He joins nine others wanting to take over from Theresa May including another former housing minister, Dominic Raab, and a former Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.
Malthouse, 52, is easily the most surprising of the 10 self-declared candidates so far, and also the one with the least experience - he was elected as an MP only in 2015.
In an article in the Sun today he says his inexperience is an advantage not a disadvantage.
“There is a yearning for change out there. I believe I’m the new face, with fresh new ideas, from a new and talented generation. This leadership campaign cannot be about the same old faces, scarred by the wars that have split the Tory Party over the last three years” he writes.
Malthouse - a Brexiteer - recently wrote the so-called Malthouse Compromise which attempted to win support in the Commons to break the long-standing Brexit logjam.
He wanted to investigate alternative attempts to resolve the Irish border issue - “the backstop” - over a three year period.
“All the leadership candidates talk about the need for unity, but I’m the only one who got off my backside to make it happen. I gather that most of them are running on a variation of my plan. That’s what made me think I would be the person to deliver it”.
In his Sun article Malthouse makes only fleeting reference to housing, even though he has held the ministerial role for almost 11 months.
He says: “As Housing Minister, it’s been my mission to build more high-quality homes as fast as we can, and numbers are looking good but there is much more work to do. We must pledge to offer these essentials to everyone: Job, House, School.”
In the ministerial post, Malthouse has concentrated chiefly on new homes while his colleague Heather Wheeler MP has worked much more closely on a raft of reforms affecting the agency industry, including the Letting Agents’ Fees Ban which comes into effect across England next Saturday, June 1.
The extraordinary churn amongst housing ministers in the past two decades has attracted strong criticism from the agency industry; whatever the result of the Tory leadership vote over the summer, it appears likely that Malthouse will be leaving the post at the new Prime Minister’s first reshuffle in August.
Meanwhile the former housing minister Dominic Raab, who held the post for seven months in 2018, also wants to be the next Prime Minister.
In a weekend announcement, accompanied by an article he wrote in the Daily Mail, Raab dedicates just 36 words out of 1,192 words to the housing issues he was at one time responsible for.
While Raab was highly specific on his preferred changes to National Insurance and income tax, but made only a vague pledge of overhaul stamp duty.
And his reference to the entire housing issue was less than half the length he devoted to the subject of paternity leave.
On the issue of housing he wrote: “We must radically upgrade our ambition for building the homes young people and those on lower incomes can afford – overhauling stamp duty, releasing government- owned land and ramping up the delivery of homes for shared ownership.”
Raab’s extensive manifesto which he wrote for the Mail over the weekend made no mention of an idea he floated earlier this year to help more private renters become owner occupiers.
Raab’s idea then - but not repeated in the Mail - was to use some of the 28 per cent capital gains tax paid by landlords who sell rental units.
"For private renters, we should encourage landlords to sell to sitting tenants by allowing a rebate on the Capital Gains Tax on the sale, up to £35,000” said Raab in April.
“Tenants could receive two-thirds, towards a 10 per cent deposit to buy the property, with the landlord receiving a third” he said.
In April he also called for stamp duty to be scrapped on homes sold for £500,000 or below.
Raab was in the housing minister job from January 7 until July 7 last year, before being promoted to a Cabinet role - Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, a post from which he resigned some months later.
Raab was a prominent anti-EU campaigner during the 2016 Referendum campaign and in his short spell as housing minister made many more social media contributions on the subject of the EU than about housing.
Raab made few key speeches as housing minister while his boss - James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government - made the running on policy announcements such as the proposals for three year standard tenancies in the private rental sector.
Raab's tenure as housing minister was the shortest of the 17 who have held the post since 1997.