Conservative MP and Tory leadership contender Tom Tugendhat has revealed he survived a suicide bomb attack while serving in Afghanistan with the British Army.
Mr Tugendhat, who was in the Army Intelligence Corps, claims he saw ‘disgusting carnage’ and the remains of his friends strewn around the area after the bombing in Helmand in 2006.
The 49-year-old, who has been the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling since 2015, said despite the tragedy he went back to work in the same office the very next day.
Mr Tugendhat said the horrific attack, which was one of two bombings he survived in the country, made him realise that ‘showing up’ is a key part of leadership.
He revealed the dramatic tale as he bids to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in a hotly contested Conservative leadership race to replace Boris Johnson.
And despite currently languishing fifth in the leadership race, the backbench MP proved popular among viewers watching the televised leadership debate last night – even going so far as to quote Harry Potter character Albus Dumbledore in response to one question.
Tom Tugendhat, pictured here during last night’s televised Conservative Leadership Debate, says he survived a terrorist attack in Afghanistan in 2006
Mr Tugendhat, pictured here during his time in the army said he was working in an office building that was destroyed in a blast by a suicide bomber
Speaking to the Telegraph yesterday, Mr Tugendhat said despite the horror of what he had seen in Afghanistan, he learned some important lessons in army, including that ‘it’s not about you’.
The attack itself took place on December 13, 2006, when the bomber walked into the compound of regional governor Mohammed Daud and detonated an explosive device, killing 10 people in the process.
Mr Tugendhat, who was working in a building at the time, said he was confronted by the reality that some of his friends had died but had to face up to the fact he was needed back at the work the very next day.
He told the paper: ‘A lot of people, of course they are, are frightened and nervous [after the attack] and part of leadership is showing up.
‘Part of leadership is making the case, part of leadership is just getting the best out of people. That’s what it’s about.’
Mr Tugendhat is currently running to become Prime Minister as part of the Conservative leadership contest. Here he is pictured at BT Studios last night ahead of the debate
As well as surviving two suicide blasts while in the country, Mr Tugendhat was also wounded in a friendly fire incident in Iraq, adding that ‘you try to get through’ the painful moments.
He added that he was hoping to have learned from some of the leaders he had served under during his time in the army, including General Lord David Richards, the former Chief of the Defence Staff.
Mr Tugendhat said: ‘When you build a team you need to make sure that inside it are people who will tell you that you are wrong, that you should think about things differently.
‘They are risking their place in the team for the effectiveness of a better outcome, that you might take it badly and kick them out of the group. That’s a hell of a thing to do and those are the people you should value.’
Mr Tugendhat, who is chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, is currently in last place of the remaining Conservative leadership contenders bidding to replace Boris Johnson.
Leadership contender Mr Tugendhat with his wife Anissia Tugendhat arrive at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, yesterday evening
The former soldier, who is an outspoken critic of Mr Johnson and voted against Brexit, has the support of 32 MPs after two rounds of voting, something that will see him eliminated in the next round unless he picks up more support from fellow Parliamentarians.
However, he did prove popular with the public at large after his performance during yesterday’s first televised leadership debate on Channel 4.
He received a round of applause from the audience for being the only candidate to say he didn’t think Mr Johnson was an honest man, while he won praise on social media for quoting Harry Potter’s Albus Dumbledore in the debate.
When asked by hot Krishnan Guru-Murthy why the public should trust him, he quoted the Hogwarts headmaster, saying: ‘It is easy to stand up your enemies, it is harder to stand up to your friends.’
Tory leadership race: Round two vote result
Rishi Sunak: 101 (+13)
Penny Mordaunt: 83 (+16)
Liz Truss: 64 (+14)
Kemi Badenoch: 49 (+9)
Tom Tugendhat: 32 (-5)
Suella Braverman: 27 (-5)
He also praised the NHS for the impact it had on his comrades wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying he was ‘eternally grateful’.
‘You’ve also given me two children’, he said in response to a question on the health service from a woman in the audience, before hastily adding ‘not you personally, of course’.
A snap poll conducted by strategic insight agency Opinium also confirmed Mr Tugendhat as the most impressive performer.
Of more than 1,000 normal voters polled, 36 per cent believed he had ‘performed best’ in the debate.
When asked about whether he thought Mr Jonhnson was honest, he was the only candidate to swiftly reply ‘no’.
He spoke while acknowledging ‘trust in politics has been collapsing, trust in our party has been collapsing’, and added: ‘I’ve been holding a mirror to many of our actions and asking those in our party, those in our leadership positions, to ask themselves “is that what the public really expects?”
‘Are you serving the people of the United Kingdom or are you serving your career? Because that’s the real question tonight. That’s the real question for all of us.’