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Westlake Legal Group > Boris Johnson MP

Profile: Amber Rudd – moderation-preaching, whip-defying, No Deal-opposing. And sought by leadership contenders for support.

Amber Rudd this week downplayed reports that she will back Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race. She is unlikely to make a public declaration of her preference until the race is under way and we can see who the candidates are.

But she makes no secret of the considerations which will guide her choice. Since her return in November to the Cabinet, its soft Brexiteer members have looked much better organised.

Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark and David Mundell together broke a three-line whip and refused to vote against a motion to take no deal off the table. They defied collective responsibility and got away with it.

Their refusal to vote with the Government upset a considerable number of colleagues, and almost certainly leaves Rudd out of contention as a figure who could reunite the party when Theresa May steps down.

But whoever does take over as leader will need a team that embraces both wings of the party. And as one of the leading figures in the One Nation group, whose formation was announced by Nicky Morgan in her piece on ConHome on Monday, Rudd has a representative value, even if, as is probable, she could not persuade its 40 or so members to vote as a bloc.

A week before Morgan’s piece appeared, Johnson wrote in his Daily Telegraph column that “we need to get back to explaining our One Nation Tory approach, and the vital symmetry between great public services and a dynamic free market economy….business can only flourish if the public sector creates the right seed-bed for growth: safe streets, high skills, good health care and the rest. One Nation Tories understand the need to satisfy both sides of the equation, and it is a profoundly moderate creed”.

He evidently proposes to unite the party by reaching out to One Nation Tories like Rudd. And she has indicated a certain receptivity to such an approach, for example in an interview for The Mail on Sunday last November, when she described herself and Johnson as “good friends”, and added that unlike Jacob Rees-Mogg, he is “not socially illiberal”.

She backed Johnson during his brief, ill-fated leadership bid in 2016 – having been deployed by the Remain campaign in the ITV television debate only a few weeks earlier, when she tried to derail Johnson by saying of him: “He’s the life and soul of the party, but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening”.

Since the 2015 general election she had been Energy and Climate Change Secretary, her first Cabinet post, but she did not demand the promise of a job in some future Johnson administration.

She wanted a commitment on climate change, which Johnson was happy to give, though after her request was fed in to his chaotic campaign, nothing happened.

Some Conservative MPs, especially those who are likely to support other leadership contenders, regard the idea of a Johnson-Rudd alliance as a cynical ploy, comparable to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as one of them put it, and no more likely to work than the alliance between Ken Clarke and John Redwood in the leadership contest of 1997.

Once Redwood had been knocked out, most of his supporters refused to transfer to Clarke, whose views on Europe they found repugnant. They instead decided to back William Hague, who came through and won.

But while it was hard to imagine that Clarke and Redwood had ever enjoyed each other’s company, Johnson and Rudd are old friends.

This opens them to the accusation that they would form, as another observer with a deep knowledge of the party puts it, “a poshocracy”.

It is certainly true that like Johnson, Rudd possesses, through her family, a remarkable range of connections. But she also wins golden opinions from a considerable number of Conservative MPs.

As Keith Simpson, a Norfolk MP since 1997, says:

“I think she is a highly intelligent, feisty woman, with great courage, wonderful and classy, descended on her mother’s side from an illegitimate child of Charles II. One can imagine casting her as the headmistress in a 1950s St Trinians film. She was very much part of the Cameron/Osborne group, but that didn’t really damage her with Mrs May. A lot of them were put to the sword, but she impressed by her command of detail, and was very good at baiting Boris during the referendum campaign. She’s like Michael Gove – she’ll happily stop and chat to you, ask you what are you doing, what are you reading. She passes the dinner party test – would you want to go to a dinner party with them – because it wouldn’t just be about her. She has a genuine interest in other people.”

Poshness, as long as it is progressive, can still work in the Conservative Party, as David Cameron demonstrated.

In January 1957, Harold Macmillan, a businessman by profession, a member of the ruling class by education and marriage, a progressive and an Anglican by conviction, an opportunist when required, seized the Conservative leadership from under the nose of Rab Butler.

Tory MPs of an imperialist outlook wanted to believe that the Suez debacle of late 1956 had not been a fatal blow to British prestige, and Macmillan managed to give them the impression that some kind of victory had occurred, and that they could still win the next general election.

Harold Wilson, who within a few years would become Labour leader, watched the new Prime Minister’s performance with admiration: “Macmillan is a genius. He is holding up the banner of Suez for the party to follow and is leading the party away from Suez. That’s what I’d like to do with the Labour Party.”

It is possible that the next Conservative leader will need, after the humiliations of Brexit, to do something similar. Macmillan led the party to a great general election victory in 1959, when it won almost 50 per cent of the vote by appearing more modern, and more efficiently devoted to the people’s welfare, than Labour did.

Rudd belongs in that progressive Conservative tradition, and is acutely aware of the need for an election victory, her majority in Hastings and Rye having shrunk in 2017 from 4,796 to 346.

Momentum activists from all over the south coast see the chance to turf her out by converging on Hastings.

In an earlier profile for ConservativeHome, I sketched Rudd’s early life, but omitted to mention that like her parents, she is an Anglican, who worships at St Mary Abbots in Kensington.

Her marriage to A.A.Gill, which ended in divorce but not acrimony, suggests she would not be deterred by the challenge of managing a highly gifted but not entirely reliable man.

Rudd is now, as Work and Pensions Secretary, in charge of the implementation of Universal Credit, a task to which she seems to be bringing a certain realism.

As Home Secretary, the post she occupied from July 2016 to April 2018, she was unseated by the Windrush scandal, during which it looked culpably naive of her not to have realised that her department would set targets for the removal of immigrants, and would try to meet these by picking on people who in no way deserved to be treated harshly, having lived peaceably and lawfully in this country for  half a century.

She said she was unaware of any targets, after which a memorandum surfaced which had been copied to her office and which set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18”.

The Guardian also published a letter from Rudd to the Prime Minister in which she spoke of an “ambitious but deliverable” target for deporting migrants. As soon as this came out, Rudd resigned.

Her defenders observe that the Home Office is an exceptionally difficult department to get any sort of control over, as shown by the large number of ministerial resignations from it over the years.

They add that it was her predecessor, May, who in 2010 established the “hostile environment” policy for immigrants, in the expectation that they would find it very difficult to prove that they had the right to remain, and could be pressured into leaving of their own accord.

Rudd’s critics say that because of her privileged background, she failed to understand the horrible predicament in which members of the Windrush generation had been placed, and the quite unreasonable demands for documentary evidence being made by the Home Office. Certainly the Home Secretary’s inexperience had been exposed.

It is by no means certain who Rudd will end up backing in the leadership contest. She could start by backing a member of the One Nation group, and switch in a later round to one of the other candidates.

But her endorsement will be eagerly sought, for she is respected beyond the circle of those who agree with her views on Brexit. Rees-Mogg told Sophy Ridge at the weekend: “I’ve always thought highly of Amber Rudd. She’s a long-standing friend of my sister’s as it happens and a person of first-class capabilities. I happen to disagree with her on the European issue.”

Not all Tory MPs are as charitable as Rees-Mogg about colleagues with whom they disagree. Rudd has deeply annoyed some on both the Remain and the Leave sides by that recent refusal, while a Cabinet minister, to vote with the Government.

Nor will some of her One Nation allies regard the prospect of Johnson as the next leader as in any way tolerable. And she herself might in the end decide to support Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt or some other contender.

Tory leadership contests are very seldom predictable, and a relatively untried and unknown figure such as Matt Hancock could come through, in a John Majorish way, as the stop Johnson candidate.

But Rudd is one of the few members of the present Cabinet who does not give the impression of having had her personality flattened by the sacrifices demanded by a ministerial career. Her support is worth having because she is her own woman.

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WATCH: Johnson could “unite the party” declares Rees-Mogg

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This fair hearing for Blair cannot rehabilitate him

Heroes or Villains? The Blair Government Reconsidered by Jon Davis and John Rentoul

John Rentoul has for many years performed, often single-handedly, the provocative task of giving a fair hearing to Tony Blair. As Jon Davis, his co-author, writes in the Prologue to this book, Rentoul became “the go-to person for a media requiring balance”, once familiarity and the invasion in 2003 of Iraq had bred contempt of the then Prime Minister: “Dislike of Blair, and demand for John, grew and grew.”

Rentoul enjoys teasing those of us who have become totally fed up with Blair, and showing us how uncharitable and unreasonable we have become, and he does so from a position of knowledge. In 1995, the year after Blair became Labour leader, Rentoul brought out his first biography of him, followed in 2001 by Tony Blair: Prime Minister, a work of 600 pages.

This led in time to an academic post, something of which those of us who have devoted ourselves to the study of such frivolous and essentially marginal figures as Boris Johnson can only dream.

Davis and Rentoul teach a course on the Blair Government at King’s College, London, where they delight in calling in key witnesses and hearing their testimony about what really happened in those years.

This book is one of the fruits of that research. It is a rich quarry of materials, which historians and students of government will mine with delight.

Nor is everything in the book favourable to Blair and the Blairites. Here is Sir Richard Mottram, a senior civil servant, on Jonathan Powell, who wished the British system of government to become “more Napoleonic”, and who after ten years as Blair’s Chief of Staff wrote a book called The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World:

“If you write a book about Machiavelli and you fancy yourself as being Napoleonic you shouldn’t have the Blair story, the story of a man who’s incapable of firing his finance director.”

The finance director was Gordon Brown, and Davis and Rentoul tell us quite a bit about Blair’s shilly-shallying over whether or not to sack him, a step he could never quite steel himself to take.

And here is Anji Hunter talking at King’s in 2017 about her discovery in 1997, after three or four months in government, that she was being paid about half as much as Powell and Alastair Campbell, with whom she had been on a level of equality as an adviser to Blair in opposition, added to which they had been given the right by Order in Council to “boss civil servants about”.

Hunter demands equal treatment, at least as far as the money is concerned, and after “a lot of hassle” she gets it:

“I had Tony’s support in that. ‘Of course she should have more money. How could you have done this, guys?’ It was slightly laddish, because Alastair is a lad, a sort of football laddo. He is a little bit misogynist, a tiny bit. You can say this to him. He and I are really good pals.”

Davis and Rentoul are impressed by Campbell:

“His Diaries are the most wonderful primary resource for the historian. The millions of words are copious, yet concise in articulation, passionate and wide-ranging, and in effect chronicle the most extensive day-by-day downloading of a prime minister’s brain ever.”

This is wildly over-the-top. There were surely many parts of Blair’s brain which he declined to allow Campbell to download. Campbell is a very gifted tabloid journalist. He gets the story, but there are extensive tracts of Blair’s mind – the Christianity, for example – which would escape his reductive intelligence, and which Blair would know it was quite fruitless and indeed embarrassing to share with him.

The greatest difficulty with a book of this kind is how to create a narrative, once you have decided not to make it a biography. Even if you go for the biographical approach, you will almost certainly find yourself forced to treat some of the record in government thematically, in order to avoid jumping about from subject to subject.

Davis says at the start, “the analytical framework we were using kept moving”. In the end, they decide

“we would simply work on providing a counterbalance to the vast array of negativity that began around Blair before he even became prime minister, gathered pace throughout his incumbency, and then consumed almost all before it in the years after his retirement. We would demonstrate that so much of the criticism was hyperbolic, unfounded or simply wrong-headed by way of our research.”

The book is organised into five chapters, which students of the themes covered will find invaluable:

1. The Blair-Brown Coalition

2. Sofa

3. Spin, Spads, and Sir Humphreys

4. The Treasury: The Brown-Balls Partnership

5. The Iraq War

This last provides the obvious reason why Blair became unpopular. The main role of the Prime Minister (or so I came to think while writing brief lives of all 54 of them) is to take the blame.

In the 18th century, Lord North took the blame on behalf of George III for losing the American colonies. In the 20th century, Neville Chamberlain took the blame on behalf of the people for failing to cope with Hitler.

North and Chamberlain had many admirable qualities, but these count for nothing as far as their reputations are concerned. The fact that most people supported their policies is irrelevant, and so in this connection are the learned works by historians seeking to correct an evident injustice.

The same fate has befallen Blair. Someone had to take the blame for what went wrong in Iraq, and the Prime Minister was the obvious candidate.

Davis and Rentoul do not seem to understand that by being so self-important and self-righteous, Blair tightened the knots in the cords which already held him prisoner.

Blair wanted to take personal credit for everything which went well under his leadership. The landslide victory of 1997 was, he and his courtiers implied, thanks in large part to him. Yet as Archie Brown observes in The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age, published in 2014:

“The landslide – an overall Labour majority of 179 – itself owed much to an electoral system which translates a fairly modest percentage increase in popular votes into a disproportionately great advantage in seats. Labour’s share of the popular vote was lower in 1997 than in all elections between 1945 and 1966, including those which Labour lost. The Conservatives, however, fared catastrophically. They had their lowest share of the vote of the century, as well as their worst result since 1906 in terms of seats. They had become so unpopular that any Labour leader who did not ‘self-destruct’ would have led the party to an overall majority of well over a hundred seats in the House of Commons. Bartle and Crewe calculate that had Major and Blair ‘been evaluated equally favourably, Labour’s majority would have been cut from 11.9 to 11.0 points, altering the outcome in just four seats’.”

Davis and Rentoul buy into the myth of the strong leader: “Tony Blair was the political colossus in Britain for thirteen years after he became leader of the Labour Party in 1994.”

They add, on page 112, that “Blair, formidable on his own, was unstoppable with Campbell”, while on page 120 they assert that “the New Labour influx” of special advisers “was the strongest ever outside wartime”.

Campbell, Powell, Hunter, David Miliband, Andrew Adonis, Sally Morgan, Geoff Mulgan, Michael Barber, Ed Balls (who features strongly in this book) and Ed Miliband are listed in support of this contention.

It is a strong line-up, but none of these individuals had any incentive, when welcomed to King’s College, to downplay his or her contribution to the achievements of the Blair years.

And it would surely be possible to compile a list of advisers who were at least as gifted, and in some cases more original, who worked for Margaret Thatcher.

In his early years as leader, Blair had a kind of self-deprecating charm which rendered his blowing of his own trumpet more acceptable.

But after Iraq, his manner became insufferable. For he not only wished to think of himself as a fine fellow. He also wished to use his considerable skills as a debater to oblige the rest of us to think of him as a fine fellow, who had invariably acted in good faith, and had done many great things.

So when he visited the authors’ class at Queen Mary (which accommodated the project until it moved to King’s) in 2011, he told the students:

“For prime ministers today, a lot of the job is about getting things done, it’s about delivery… And unless you have a powerful centre, unless the prime minister has the power to do things, things just don’t happen…with things like foot and mouth and so on, these crises that hit you, the fuel protests, if I hadn’t gripped that and run it, never mind Cabinet government, run it myself with the ministers sitting round the table gripping it, salvaging it, it just would not have happened.”

Here is Blair the indispensable leader who keeps his head when all about him are losing theirs, the hero of the hour, indeed the hero of every hour, for government is conducted at a frenetic pace and the saviour has to rush to wherever the fighting is fiercest, so he can turn the tide and feed yet another triumph to the feral beasts of the 24-hour media, who will otherwise rend him limb from limb,

Mottram says of Blair and his court:

“they held their colleagues in contempt, mainly, largely, and they had a very low opinion about a government machine about which they knew nothing… Years later they still never learned this lesson that the most important thing you do is pick  the people because they didn’t think they were going to work through loads of other people, they thought they were going to do it all themselves…”

Davis and Rentoul consider this accusation unjust, and provide a large volume of evidence which tends in the other direction.

But by taking Blair at his own vainglorious estimate of himself, they help, unintentionally, to show him emerging as a lonely, even tragic figure, who becomes unbearable, because of his moral vanity, to listen to even when he is telling the truth.

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Iain Dale: Something has changed this week. Since May announced talks with Corbyn. I can smell it.

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Listening to Today earlier this week, I thought I must be living in a parallel universe.

First up was Ken Clarke, blithely wittering on about the Customs Unions without seemingly understanding how it works. Perhaps, as he admitted with the Maastricht Treaty, he hasn’t actually probed the damned thing. When Nick Robinson explained that if we were outside the EU, but inside the Customs Union, Lithuania would have more influence over UK trade policy than we would, he brushed it away saying that our views “would be taken into account”. Well that’s alright then.

This is what I do not understand. Why is it that politicians of all parties are willing to cede this sort of control to a body which they would have no influence over? Not just that – but, in theory, the EU could do trade deals which were inimical to British interests, and there is nothing we could do about it.

It’s all very well for Geoffrey Cox to go on TV, and witter on about how it wouldn’t be all that bad, and people should really get a sense of perspective. He was then followed by putative leadership contender, Matt Hancock, who made it clear that he, too, doesn’t see membership of the Customs Union as a real problem. He wasn’t exactly categoric in ruling out a second referendum, either. His bid to succeed Theresa May has already got stuck in the EU quicksand.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Tuesday, there were two Cabinet meetings, which lasted more than seven hours between them. And the great conclusion these massive brains came up with? To hold cross party talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

From what we now know, less than half the cabinet supported the idea, with Gavin Williamson telling the Prime Minister the idea was “ridiculous”. At least one of them had the bollocks to say it. The rest of them did their usual supine thing and sat on their hands.

It’s as clear as night follows day that if these talks amount to anything, membership of the Customs Union will be the result. The other consequence is that the Prime Minister has pushed some MPs who support her on last week’s third “meaningful vote” back in the other direction. Way to go.

Maybe it doesn’t matter so much to her if she can win by securing Labour votes. For a woman whose primary loyalty was supposed to be to the Conservative Party, it is a shameful road to go down. It is already riven by split after split, but this move opened up a chasm. She will never recover from it, and doesn’t deserve to.

– – – – – – – – – –

Why are the likes of Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and several others still in the Cabinet? You wonder what would have to happen for them to resign? They can argue until they are blue in the face that they have more influence inside than out. Really? Difficult to spot how that has manifested itself, isn’t it?

If they and at least six others don’t resign en bloc if there is a move by the Prime Minister actually to support membership of the Customs Union, they will become little more than clapping seals. Each of the possible leadership contenders in the Cabinet has masochistically damaged their chances by tacitly going along with the May’s talks with Corbyn.

Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and David Davis have clean hands, while Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom and the rest have dipped their hands in blood. As Williamson argued, how on earth can Tories now stick to their policy of painting Corbyn as some sort of dangerous Marxist who is not fit to govern, when the Prime Minister has now effectively invited him to join the government?

– – – – – – – – – –

A day of reckoning will come for the Conservative Party. We can be sure of that. Something has changed in the last week. I can sense it.

People’s patience has run out. The trickle of people who phone my radio show to say they’ve torn up their party membership cards has become a torrent. Tales from the doorstep demonstrate there are large numbers of people who say they’ll never vote Tory again are legion.

Theresa May could be trying to ensure that the same happens to Labour by holding these talks with Corbyn, but as she has never said: “something has changed”. And not for the better.

– – – – – – – – – –

I was very sad to see Nick Boles cross the floor of the Commons on Tuesday. He’s been a friend ever since he invited me to join the board of Policy Exchange at its inception. A man of ideas and very good company, he’s clearly reached the end of his tether both with his local party and with the Prime Minister.

On Wednesday night he went full tonto on Twitter, and laid into Robbie Gibb, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications. Now that’s a job no one would want at the moment, isn’t it?

Boles accused him of being committed first to a hard Brexit rather than to May. That’s quite an accusation to make. In the days when Gibb used to speak to me, I have to say he was never anything other than professional, and very protective of the Prime Minister’s interests.

Perhaps, given my regular criticism of May over the last few months, he regards me as someone beyond redemption. But if Boles’s accusations were true, you’d have thought that Gibb would have been encouraging me in my criticism of the ever-softer Brexit policy that the Government has pursued. But he hasn’t. It’s a funny old world.

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Tim Bale: Johnson and Rees-Mogg are still in with a shout in the race to succeed May

Tim Bale is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, and co-runs the ESRC Party Members Project (PMP), which aims to study party membership in the six largest British parties.

In order to stay in office, the Prime Minister had to promise her party that she would be gone before the next election.  But there’s little agreement among Conservative members – and even less agreement among Conservative voters – as to who should replace her.

The ESRC-funded Party Members Project, run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, surveyed 1215 Conservative Party members between 17th and 22nd December, and a total of 1675 voters between 18-19 December, including 473 individuals who were intending to vote Conservative. The fieldwork was conducted by YouGov.

Respondents were asked the following question: Theresa May has said she will stand down as Conservative Party leader before the next scheduled general election in 2022.  Who would you most like to see replace her as Conservative Leader?  Neither group was presented with a pre-determined list of candidates but was instead asked to write in a name, and they were of course free to say that they didn’t know or weren’t sure, et cetera.

The table below gives the results, leaving out all those names that received only a handful or so of mentions – a group of people which included some relatively high-profile figures who are sometimes mentioned as potential candidates: Esther McVey is one example, since her name was suggested by only four Tory members (out of the 1162 who answered the leadership question) and no Tory voters. The table also contains a column allowing comparison with the results published by ConservativeHome on 31 December 2018, although their survey, unlike ours, gives respondents a list of names to choose from.

Tory Voters

(per cent)

Tory Members

(per cent)

ConHome

(per cent)

Boris Johnson 15 20 27
Jacob Rees-Mogg 7 15 4
Don’t Know 38 12 N/A
David Davis 4 8 7
Sajid Javid 2 8 13
Dominic Raab 3 7 12
Jeremy Hunt 2 6 9
Amber Rudd 4 5 5
Michael Gove 2 4 3
Penny Mordaunt 0 1 4

 

The results of the survey provide an insight into why Theresa May survived the confidence vote she was subjected to by some of her MPs just before Christmas. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to who might replace her – and that very uncertainty is bound to have worked to the PM’s advantage.

Clearly, Johnson and Rees-Mogg, both of them Brexiteers with high name-recognition, currently have the edge over other potential candidates to succeed May. Indeed, all the other candidates are beaten by ‘Don’t know’, even among Tory members. That said, when it comes to Tory voters, the same is true even of Johnson and Rees-Mogg.

Importantly, neither Johnson nor Rees-Mogg is so far ahead of the rest of the field as to be impossible to catch.  In any case, both are likely to find it hard to make it through the parliamentary round of voting that, according to the party’s rules, narrows the field to two candidates before grassroots members are given the final say.

Also striking is the dominance of men over women: at the moment it looks unlikely that the Conservatives will replace their second female leader with a third. Amber Rudd is almost certainly too much of a Remainer for a membership dominated not just by Brexiteers but by hard Brexiteers. Meanwhile Penny Mordaunt (mentioned by just 14 out of 1162 Tory members and by no Tory voters) clearly still has an awful lot to do.

The same looks to be true, however, of the three or four men likely to throw their hats into the ring – Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, and Jeremy Hunt, whose recent trip to Singapore has been widely interpreted as part of his ongoing leadership bid. And Michael Gove is not so far behind as to make a second crack at the top job a complete fool’s errand, in spite of the mess he made of the last leadership contest.

Perhaps the bookies are right in marking Gove at 10/1. This isn’t far off the 9/1 you’d get if you put your money on Hunt and the 8/1 you’d get on Raab, but still some way off the 6/1 offered for Johnson and, interestingly, Javid – who, like Hunt, many claim has been very much ‘on manoeuvres’ recently.

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Testing our survey against the latest polling of Party members. New evidence on Next Tory Leader.

Today’s Observer contains a brief summary of more polling of Conservative Party members for the ESCR Party Members Project.  It is squeezed into a larger story on Labour and Brexit, and the paper’s account doesn’t come with a table and full details.  None the less, it provides another opportunity to test Conservative Home’s monthly survey against a properly weighted opinion poll.  Mark Wallace looked at other recent evidence from the Project late last week.

Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis are “top of the party’s grassroots list” as preferred candidates to replace Theresa May, the Observer reports.  It says that Johnson “topped the poll” with 20 per cent, that Rees-Mogg “trailed in second on 15 per cent” and that  Davis “scored 8 per cent”.  We therefore presume that he came third.  Twelve per cent “said they did not know who should be the next leader”.  The paper adds that “Sajid Javid was the only figure who originally backed staying in the EU, among the top five names in the members’ wishlist”.

So if the Observer‘s summary is correct, the ESCR Project’s top five are –

  • Johnson – 20 per cent.
  • Rees-Mogg – 15 per cent.
  • Davis – 8 per cent.
  • Javid or a Conservative MP who backed Leave in the EU referendum.
  • Javid or a Conservative MP who backed Leave in the EU referendum.

And the top five candidates in our last Next Tory Leader survey were –

  • Johnson – 27 per cent.
  • Javid – 13 per cent.
  • Dominic Raab – 12 per cent.
  • Jeremy Hunt – 9 per cent.
  • Davis – 7 per cent.

As we write, we don’t know how many names, if any, the ESCR put to their sample of Party members – or which ones.  We currently offer no fewer than 19 names, all of whom have been spoken of as potential leadership candidates  None have asked us to remove them from the survey.  Without knowing more, it is impossible to draw precise conclusions, and the findings referred to in the Observer aren’t covered, as we write, in the latest relevant blog on the Project’s site.

None the less, a few points are obvious.  First, three of the ESCR’s top five overlap with three of our top five: Johnson, Davis, and Javid.  Jeremy Hunt was in our top five; if the Observer is correct, he isn’t in the ESCR’s.  Jacob-Rees Mogg is in the ESCR’s top five; he wasn’t in ours (he was seventh).  It is sometimes claimed that the ConHome panel is more Eurosceptic than Party membership as a whole.  That may be correct – but as matters stand this ESCR result actually finds the reverse, though it is of course only a single piece of evidence.

The ESCR Project is run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University.  Its last blog on its latest polling of Party members says that it surveyed 1215 ordinary Conservative Party members.  YouGov conducted the polling.  More when we have it.

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Our survey. Next Tory leader. Johnson is top again. Javid second, Raab third. Hunt is now fourth.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-12-30-at-15.36.39 Our survey. Next Tory leader. Johnson is top again. Javid second, Raab third. Hunt is now fourth. ToryDiary Tom Tugendhat MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Next Tory leader Michael Gove MP Liz Truss MP Jeremy Hunt MP James Cleverly MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP David Lidington MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Amber Rudd MP

It’s much the same story in our final Next Tory Leader survey of 2018.  Boris Johnson is top with more than double the score of the man who stays second – Sajid Javid.  The Home Secretary continues narrowly to fend off Dominic Raab, who stays third.

Last month, Johnson was on 24 per cent.  He moves up a bit to 27 per cent.  Javid puts on a point to come in at 13 per cent.  Raab does likewise and is now on 12 per cent.

David Davis drops from ten per cent to seven per cent.  Jeremy Hunt is up from seven per cent to nine per cent, and displaces Davis in fourth place.

But the snapshot picture is that there are three contenders in double figures, one well ahead of the other two – and a very long tail of names in single figures, to which we must add Esther McVey, new in the table this month.

Footnote: Theresa May can’t now be challenged via a confidence ballot for the best part of a year, so as a courtesy we’ve suspended a question we’ve asked since July last year – namely, if she should resign as Party leader and when.

However, it would be foolhardy to assume that she will necessarily be in place in twelve months’ time or earlier.  So the Next Tory Leader question stays pertinent.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

ConservativeHome Awards: Rees-Mogg wins Brexiteer of the Year

Continuing our short series on the results of our ConservativeHome awards – as voted on by our very own Members’ Panel – today we unveil the winner of the coveted ‘Brexiteer of the Year’.

This goes to the pro-Leave politician deemed by our readers to have been most effective in service to the cause over the past twelve months. The candidates were:

Boris Johnson: The former Foreign Secretary resigned over Chequers and champions ‘no deal’

David Davis: The one-time Brexit Secretary also resigned over Chequers

Dominic Raab: Davis’ successor led a walkout of several Cabinet Brexiteers over the Withdrawal Agreement

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The Chairman of the European Research Group has led backbench Brexiteer resistance to soft Brexit

The winner, and by a very comfortable margin, is Jacob Rees-Mogg. Just a shade under half of all respondents deemed him the most effective pro-Leave politician of 2018. Perhaps not a great surprise, as the MP for North East Somerset is a grassroots favourite.

Of the rest, another quarter backed Raab, who tried to make the Prime Minister’s vision work before walking out over last-minute alterations to the Withdrawal Agreement, with Johnson and Davis bringing up the rear.

Here are the results in full:

Westlake Legal Group ConHome-Awards-2018-Brexiteer-1024x774 ConservativeHome Awards: Rees-Mogg wins Brexiteer of the Year ToryDiary Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Dominic Raab MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

ConservativeHome Awards: Johnson wins Resignation of the Year

As mentioned yesterday, our final survey of the year invited our panel’s views on who should win the various ConHome awards for 2018.

Today it’s time to see who won ‘Resignation of the Year’. Theresa May’s Government has a made a habit of shedding ministers, so our readers were offered a specially-enlarged panel to choose from this year, with no fewer than 12 candidates.

Unsurprisingly, Brexiteers led the pack. Boris Johnson scooped the gold for his stand over Chequers, with fellow travellers David Davis and Dominic Raab taking the other two podium spots.

None of the Remainers scored terribly highly, although once again a Johnson led the field, with Jo Johnson seeing off the likes of Guto Bebb and Dr Philip Lee.

However the real honourable mention must go to Tracey Crouch, who took a very respectable fourth place for her decision to quit the Government over delays to regulations on fixed-odds betting terminals.

Here are the results in full:

Westlake Legal Group ConHome-Awards-2018-Resignation-1018x1024 ConservativeHome Awards: Johnson wins Resignation of the Year Tracey Crouch MP ToryDiary Philip Lee MP Jo Johnson MP Guto Bebb MP End of Year Awards Dominic Raab MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP
Westlake Legal Group ConHome-Awards-2018-Resignation-Table-1024x483 ConservativeHome Awards: Johnson wins Resignation of the Year Tracey Crouch MP ToryDiary Philip Lee MP Jo Johnson MP Guto Bebb MP End of Year Awards Dominic Raab MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com