There has been a mini rush for more MPs to declare for a candidate,creating a premier league of four, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab. Two candidates, Kit Malthouse and James Cleverly have already stepped down, with pressure on other candidates to do the same for want of more support. This is now a more traditional election, with growing camps for the main candidates trying to hoover up more votes and pledges by demonstrating momentum for their candidate.
Nominations close on June 10th. The first round ballot is on 13 June, the second round on 18 June, the third round on 19 June and rounds four and five if needed on 20 June. That would allow for a seven candidate race with just one dropping out at each stage and two winners to go on to the contest amongst the membership or for a more numerous field if more than one drops out between rounds owing to the new thresholds or candidate choice. It is likely we will not need rounds beyond June 20th. It would be worrying if we got to a last two only for the second placed candidate to do a deal to prevent a membership run off. Under the rules the race in the country can be eliminated by candidates colluding or changing their minds, as with the last leadership election.
I have now seen and heard a range of views from members of the Wokingham constituency. 50 came to a reception and others have emailed or spoken to me.There is no one stand out candidate commanding great support, with many members saying they do not know a number of the candidates and do not therefore wish to commit to one particular one at this early stage. Boris Johnson is the best known and attracted the most mentions wanting him on the ballot paper, but his numbers were still in single figures with most do not knows.
I have now had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, one of the two candidates in the front runners list who resigned from the government over the Brexit policy being pursued by Mrs May. He took the job of Brexit Secretary knowing the PM’s commitment to the Withdrawal Treaty. He voted for the Withdrawal Agreement on the third vote despite having strong reservations about it. He states clearly that as PM he would get us out by October 31 with or without an Agreement. He also says he has a preference for an Agreement and thinks it should be possible to renegotiate it with the EU despite their repeated statements to the contrary. He wants changes to the backstop and some other matters, but seems willing to countenance a two year delay in exit and making further substantial payments to the EU. These views make it difficult for me to vote for him.
Michael Gove has repeated his support for the Withdrawal Agreement, and said he would countenance a further delay in our exit to try to get a better deal. He seems to think he might be able to renegotiate the Treaty, and seems to imply the only really bad feature of it is the Irish backstop which he would like to time limit. These views make it impossible for me to vote for him. Both these candidates have interesting views of a range of other topics, but if we cannot get out of the EU promptly and cleanly the policies we follow post Brexit will be drowned out by disappointment and continuing rows over Brexit. The general view of most of the candidates is in favour of relaxing austerity, with some tax cuts and some spending increases, as recommended regularly on this site.
Why Mrs May could end up remaining Prime Minister a lot longer than we think
The Guardian reports
Boris Johnson could avoid facing an immediate confidence vote in his premiership if he becomes Conservative leader, as ministers are considering whether to send MPs home early for their summer break before the new prime minister is announced.
Mel Stride, the new leader of the House of Commons, aroused suspicions that the Conservatives are plotting to put off a confidence vote for their new leader until September, as he refused to confirm when recess will start.
He said it was “not necessarily” the case that the new Conservative leader would have to appear in front of parliament before MPs go off on holiday until the autumn.
Ministers appear to be trying to get round the threat of a new Conservative leader failing to be able to form a government, if Johnson or one of the other frontrunners to succeed Theresa May loses the support of some Tory MPs or cannot win over the Democratic Unionist party.
Labour sources said they believe the government whips are planning recess to start potentially as early as July 19 – almost a week earlier than last year – while the Conservatives will not say exactly when the winner of their leadership contest will be announced, other than it will be in the week of July 22.
The move to delay a confidence vote until September would give a new leader the chance to ensure its confidence and supply deal with the DUP still stands.
However, it could mean that Theresa May would not be able to go to Buckingham Palace straight away and resign as prime minister. Her spokesman said May would only hand over the keys to No 10 when “she says to the Queen that she is stepping aside and believes that someone else can command the confidence of the House”.
This is something that Alastair Meeks has mentioned a few times that it only needs three Tory MPs to switch sides for the Tory/DUP majority to be wiped out and I’m fairly confident there’s more than three Tory MPs who will do whatever it takes to stop a no deal Brexit.
With the likes of Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab openly talking about acting like a modern day Charles I and proroguing Parliament to ensure (a no deal) Brexit on Halloween you can see why Parliament would have no confidence in certain winners of the Tory leadership race. I cannot see Parliament having confidence in someone committed to a no deal Brexit in October.
I think if Parliament declares it has no confidence in the new Tory leader we could see any of the following, a government of national unity to sort out Brexit, or more likely a new general election. So Mrs May ends remaining Prime Minister for the duration of the general election campaign whilst her successor as Tory leader fights the general election.
With the Lib Dems and Brexit party surging in the polls and the Tories hitting rock bottom in the polls there’s no desire for an early general election in the Tory party so Tory MPs might end up backing as leader someone who does not become tumescent over no deal, that should benefit Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, and Rory Stewart.
This could have serious implications for several betting markets, I’m fortunate that most of my bets are on next Tory leader whilst I’ve been active in laying the next Prime Minister market. Given the complications of Theresa May’s exit markets I suggest if you’re betting on the next Tory leader/PM markets you check the precise rules/markets, different bookies can have slightly different definitions.
If you’re constitutional expert or lawyer this might be an even more exciting and profitable time for you. There’s a beautiful irony that Boris Johnson’s declaration that he would exit from the EU, deal or no deal, on Halloween might ensure he becomes Tory leader but stops him from becoming Prime Minister.