The Prisons Minister Rory Stewart’s interview in the Spectator about wanting to become Prime Minister would have been more appropriate for April Fool’s Day, frankly. Mr Stewart has become the spokesman from the May bunker and his noble efforts at bridging Number 10’s delusions and the grim reality of the baying electorate have not gone unnoticed. He is the Comical Ali – the Baghdad Bob – of May’s fading government and he should get a knighthood for maintaining a straight face.
He has no hope of becoming Prime Minister. He is seen as an extension of the limpet in Number 10 and would be drop-kicked on his way by the associations as speedily as Yvette Cooper collecting for the People’s Vote.
The race for the leadership of the Conservative Party – to be the UK’s next Prime Minister – has as many runners and riders as the Grand National. A quick glimpse at today’s betting odds on the potential candidates tells a lot:
Most of the runners in this market, like Mr Stewart, haven’t got a hope in hell of crossing the line first. Here’s Country Squire’s take on the candidates and our opinion on why they should / should not get the top job:
Michael Gove is the most capable candidate but he’s voter repellent and will never win a General Election, especially after what is seen as stabbing Boris in the back – the moment that left us with the awful PM we have now. Unlikely.
Dominic Raab walks and talks like a potential PM but if you go and speak to his constituents in Esher and Walton – as well as some of his former staff – they tell a story of a man whose CV does not add up, allegedly, and who has more question marks than answers hanging around him. One particular stay at a university in the Middle East has many eyebrows raised as does Raab’s role as an “international lawyer” in Norway peace talks. Unlikely.
Andrea Leadsom is a good egg. She’s no nonsense and her run-ins with the Squeaker have done her plenty of favours with the associations. Boris-lite. Unlikely to have General Election appeal. Possible.
Sajid Javid would make a great PM. He’s competent and decent. He should have won the Esher and Walton constituency over Raab. He won’t be PM because the UK is not ready for someone called Javid as PM – the constituency associations (as Esher and Walton showed) certainly are not ready. Sadly, unlikely.
Jeremy Hunt is the most likely anyone-other-than-Boris candidate and would do a good job. He’s bright, ambitious and – despite voting remain – he’s sound. A tad lacklustre?Possible but as a Remainer he’s up against it.
Matthew Hancock is Theresa May in a suit. Forget it. The People have had enough of this kind of blancmange masquerading as leadership material. Unlikely.
Johnny Mercer. Nice bloke but not bright enough. Soldiers and politics don’t mix these days. His recent scandal – linked to a dodgy finance firm – has not helped. Nope.
David Lidington: Too close to May. Like Bhopal and Chernobyl he can’t be disinfected in a few weeks. Same goes for Hammond – seriously disliked by Brexiteers. Unlikely.
James Cleverly. Nope. Party Chairman type – would be a far better Chairman than the current incumbent. No chance.
Other possibles but also-rans: Esther McVey (again voter repellent for a General Election), Amber Rudd (too many association members have voodoo dolls of her – and the Cameron intake of Blairites – so no way), David Davis (his chance was in 2005), Sir Oliver Letwin (nope – the party will split), Penny Mordaunt (no – not yet), JRM (will run behind Boris) and Tom Tugendhat (too early and his name is impossible to spell correctly).
Boris Johnson. The Conservative Party’s only hope. Capable – if he presses the right buttons – of cleaning up. Priapic Boris could embrace Brexit, yoke the wave of Brexit Party deserters, head for hay-making productive political ground and capture thousands of Labour Brexiteer voters, sort out the Conservative Party and sort out the country in one foul swoop. Without him the Conservative Party will be gone – and there will be a rush for the exit door of UK PLC as people brace themselves for the enemy takeover. Likely winner.
First of all, let’s shift May.
Theresa, your time is up.