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Westlake Legal Group > Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

The Moggcast. The Foreign Secretary’s “personal attacks” on Johnson “make it harder” for him to continue serve in top Cabinet roles.

You can also listen and subscribe to the Moggcast on iTunes, through our YouTube channel, or through the RSS feed here.

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

Henry Hill: Johnson and Hunt woo DUP as leadership roadshow hits Belfast

Leadership contenders woo DUP…

It is difficult to to think of the last time Northern Ireland – and more specifically, Northern Irish politicians – have been so central to the internal dynamics of the Conservative Party. Perhaps not since Bonar Law.

Although they didn’t get to vote in the early rounds of the contest, the ten Democratic Unionist MPs nonetheless have clout when it comes to the Tory leadership race. Whoever wins will need to be able to maintain, and ideally strengthen, the Government’s working relationship with its Ulster allies in order to maintain any sort of majority in the House of Commons.

So this week both candidates hit the stump in Northern Ireland, with pitches both to the Province’s small but loyal band of Tory members and the DUP.

At a gathering of 240 local activists, Johnson publicly disavowed suggestions that he had ‘toyed’ with the idea of resolving the backstop by reverting to the EU’s original plan and hiving off Northern Ireland’s economic arrangements from the rest of the UK, according to the FT.

It adds that both candidates met with representatives of the DUP: Johnson with Arlene Foster, the leader, on Tuesday and Hunt with Nigel Dodds, their Westminster leader, on Monday night.

The Daily Mail also reported Johnson’s enthusiasm for the construction of a road and rail bridge connecting Ulster with the mainland. Questioned on the subject by members, he highlighted plans by Alan Dunlop, a professor of architecture. He also wrote in the paper about his plans for the Union. The Daily Express writes, meanwhile, about his ruling out any reform to the Barnett Formula.

In other news, Ruth Davidson has rebuked Johnson over his priorities, telling him the Union must be his “do-or-die” issue, amidst fresh reports of Scottish Conservative unease about his premiership. Katy Balls suggests that these could keep the Tories out of power, whilst Jacob Rees-Mogg argues that Johnson will stop the EU ‘corroding’ the Union.

Party faces clashes with allies on same-sex marriage and abortion

In light of the above, both Hunt and Johnson will need to think carefully about how they handle two issues which, after months of can-kicking by Karen Bradley, threaten to come to ahead as the stalemate over restoring devolution drags on.

The first is same-sex marriage. Patrick Maguire sets out in the New Statesman how a cross-party group of MPs are almost certain to legislate for Westminster to extend it to the Province in the event that Stormont is not imminently restored (chances of that: slim to none). He writes that this could push the Government into a row with the DUP – not over the decision, to which even socially conservative Unionists appear resigned at this point, but because of its implications for Ulster’s governance.

For over a year, Bradley has resisted the DUP’s calls to introduce ‘full-fat’ direct rule. Legislating on marriage from Westminster would be an act of direct rule, and shred what remains of the Government’s case for not going further.

The other possible flashpoint is abortion, with Penny Mordaunt having made the papers yesterday with a call for reform to the Province’s “appalling” laws on the issue. Abortion is completely banned in Northern Ireland. Both Hunt and Johnson have ruled out change, but the same Commons coalition pushing same-sex marriage could do the same for abortion – especially once the precedent for such acts for direct rule has been set.

May calls for review of devolution as part of legacy pitch

The Prime Minister has charged Lord Dunlop, a former Scottish Office minister, with conducting a review into devolution, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Apparently the object of this would be to assess the extent to which the current constitutional order bolsters or damages the UK, and come up with proposals for how to strengthen the role of Westminster and other British institutions in the political lives of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Current ideas include the creation of a Government-controlled ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ to replace EU grants post-Brexit, and replicating Brussels’ policy of heavily branding projects to make sure the public is aware of who paid for them.

Whether or not this review actually does the UK any good will depend in large part on the terms, which are apparently under dispute inside the Government as some push for a broad remit and others try to box Dunlop in. There is also a risk that it will end up hijacked by the devocracy and more-powers lobby and turned into just another set of demands – Nick Timothy, formerly one of May’s key advisers, was peddling this exhausted orthodoxy in today’s Telegraph.

Britain can’t afford a repeat of May’s fumbling u-turn on the devolution of repatriated EU powers. Unless Dunlop has the freedom, imagination, and courage to take the knife to devolution’s sacred cows, his review won’t help his country.

News in Brief:

  • Morgan and Hands’ panel delivers interim report on backstop – News Letter
  • Scottish Tories urge boycott of SNP’s ‘citizens’ assembly’ – The Scotsman
  • Hunt and Johnson support moves to protect Ulster veterans – The Times
  • Dugdale says Corbyn could offer Sturgeon referendum to win Commons support – The Scotsman
  • SNP beat retreat on ‘vote-killer’ gender laws – The Times
  • Scottish Government tells medical schools to admit fewer English pupils – The Scotsman

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

Which MP is backing which candidate. Our named estimates. Johnson 112, Hunt 44, Gove 34, Javid 21, Stewart 14

The arms race to name supporters has begun, and on balance we’ve decided to join it.

We have been compiling our own list for some time both of declared and undeclared supporters of possible contenders.

Some names will doubtless come off one column and be added to another…only perhaps later to revert to the original.

At any rate, here we go: as we wrote recently, what strikes us so far is how fluid the Parliamentary stage of the contest is presently set to be.

– – –

Boris Johnson – 112

  • Nigel Adams
  • Stuart Andrew
  • Steve Baker
  • Steve Barclay
  • Paul Beresford


  • Jake Berry
  • Peter Bone
  • Andrew Bowie NEW
  • Ben Bradley
  • Andrew Bridgen


  • James Brokenshire
  • Robert Buckland
  • Conor Burns
  • Alun Cairns
  • Bill Cash


  • Rehman Chisti NEW
  • Therese Coffey
  • Damian Collins
  • Colin Clark
  • Simon Clarke


  • James Cleverly
  • Geoffrey Cox
  • Tracey Crouch NEW
  • Leo Docherty
  • Nadine Dorries


  • Oliver Dowden
  • Richard Drax
  • James Duddridge
  • Iain Duncan Smith
  • Michael Ellis


  • Charlie Elphicke
  • Nigel Evans
  • David Evennett
  • Michael Fallon
  • Mark Francois


  • Lucy Frazer
  • Marcus Fysh
  • Zac Goldsmith
  • Chris Grayling
  • Andrew Griffiths


  • Matt Hancock
  • Simon Hart
  • James Heappey
  • Chris Heaton-Harris
  • Ranil Jayawardena


  • Bernard Jenkin
  • Andrea Jenkyns NEW
  • Robert Jenrick
  • Caroline Johnson
  • Jo Johnson


  • David Jones
  • Daniel Kawczynski
  • Greg Knight
  • Kwasi Kwarteng
  • Mark Lancaster


  • Andrea Leadsom
  • Andrew Lewer
  • Julian Lewis
  • Ian Liddell-Grainger NEW
  • Jack Lopresti


  • Craig Mackinlay
  • Stephen McPartland
  • Esther McVey
  • Ann Main
  • Kit Malthouse


  • Scott Mann
  • Paul Maynard NEW
  • Johnny Mercer
  • Amanda Milling
  • Andrew Mitchell


  • Damian Moore
  • Anne Marie Morris NEW
  • Sheryll Murray
  • Andrew Murrison
  • Matthew Offord


  • Priti Patel
  • Owen Paterson
  • Mike Penning
  • Andrew Percy
  • Mark Pritchard


  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • John Redwood
  • Lawrence Robertson
  • Douglas Ross
  • Andrew Rossindell


  • Lee Rowley
  • Bob Seely NEW
  • Grant Shapps
  • Alok Sharma
  • Chloe Smith


  • Henry Smith
  • Andrew Stephenson
  • Bob Stewart
  • Graham Stuart
  • Julian Sturdy


  • Rishi Sunak
  • Desmond Swayne
  • Ross Thomson
  • Justin Tomlinson
  • Craig Tracey


  • David Tredinnick
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan
  • Liz Truss
  • Martin Vickers NEW
  • Theresa Villiers


  • Ben Wallace
  • David Warburton
  • Matt Warman
  • Heather Wheeler NEW
  • John Whittingdale


  • Gavin Williamson

Jeremy Hunt – 44

  • Harriet Baldwin
  • Peter Bottomley
  • Steve Brine
  • Alistair Burt
  • James Cartlidge


  • Jo Churchill
  • Greg Clark
  • Glyn Davies
  • Alan Duncan
  • Caroline Dinenage NEW


  • Jonathan Djonogly NEW
  • Philip Dunne
  • Mark Field
  • Vicky Ford
  • Liam Fox


  • Mike Freer
  • Mark Garnier
  • Nus Ghani
  • Robert Goodwill
  • Roger Gale


  • Richard Graham
  • Greg Hands
  • Oliver Heald
  • Nick Herbert
  • John Howell


  • Andrew Jones
  • John Lamont
  • Alan Mak
  • Patrick McLoughlin
  • Huw Merriman


  • Penny Mordaunt
  • David Morris
  • James Morris
  • Will Quince
  • Mark Pawsey


  • John Penrose
  • Mark Prisk
  • Amber Rudd
  • Royston Smith
  • Alec Shelbrooke


  • Keith Simpson
  • Iain Stewart
  • Helen Whateley

Michael Gove – 34

  • Peter Aldous
  • Richard Bacon
  • Kemi Badenoch
  • Karen Bradley
  • Jack Brereton


  • Alberto Costa
  • David Duguid
  • George Eustice
  • Michael Fabricant
  • Nick Gibb


  • Luke Graham
  • Bill Grant
  • Kirstene Hair
  • John Hayes
  • Trudy Harrison


  • Damian Hinds
  • Kevin Hollinrake
  • Stephen Kerr
  • Edward Leigh
  • Oliver Letwin


  • Rachel Maclean
  • Mark Menzies
  • Anne Milton
  • Nicky Morgan
  • David Mundell


  • Bob Neill
  • Guy Opperman
  • Neil Parish
  • Claire Perry
  • John Stevenson


  • Mel Stride
  • Tom Tugendhat
  • Ed Vaizey

Sajid Javid – 22

  • Lucy Allan
  • Edward Argar
  • Victoria Atkins
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Stephen Crabb


  • Mims Davies
  • Kevin Foster
  • John Glen
  • Robert Halfon
  • Luke Hall


  • Simon Hoare
  • Caroline Nokes
  • Chris Philp
  • Mary Robinson
  • Andrew Selous


  • Chris Skidmore
  • Gary Streeter
  • Derek Thomas
  • Robin Walker
  • Mike Wood


  • Jeremy Wright

Rory Stewart – 14

  • Richard Benyon
  • Ken Clarke
  • Tobias Ellwood
  • David Gauke
  • Dominic Grieve


  • Margot James
  • Gillian Keegan
  • David Lidington
  • Paul Masterton
  • Victoria Prentis


  • Antoinette Sandbach
  • Caroline Spelman
  • Nicholas Soames

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

The Moggcast. Johnson “understands that If we don’t leave by 31st October, there’s no Tory Party to lead”.

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

Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

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

Who is the real Gove?

Michael Gove possesses an audacity and quickness of apprehension which are almost unrivalled in the Conservative leadership race. He got off to a flying start by promising free UK citizenship for three million EU nationals should he become Prime Minister – prompting ConservativeHome to hail him as the winner of the first week of the contest, and “the master of announcements”.

In the second week, things have gone less swimmingly for him. The Times yesterday reported, under the headline “Moderates back Boris Johnson to be next Prime Minister”, that three MPs, Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden, are supporting Johnson.

In the 2016 contest, Sunak and Jenrick supported Gove while Dowden backed Theresa May. To find the three of them writing a joint piece in support of Johnson as the only answer this time round was discouraging for Gove.

But he is an extraordinarily resourceful campaigner, and there is still everything to fight for. Andrew Mitchell, a former International Development Secretary and Chief Whip, has not yet made up his mind who he will support, and said last night of Gove to ConHome after the One Nation hustings:

“He clearly has a strong chance of becoming leader because he’s an undoubted Brexiteer, but one who could unify the Conservative parliamentary party. He is also speaking a language on the environment which speaks directly to the younger generation about climate change.”

When ConHome wondered whether Gove is simply too unpopular with voters to be a viable leader, Mitchell replied:

“Were he to win he’d be a fund of interesting ideas and important policies which would bridge the generational gap.”

Gove himself said last night at the One Nation event, and during a subsequent Spectator appearance, that he would be prepared, if necessary, to extend the deadline for leaving the EU beyond 31st October.

Such statements will not satisfy hardline Brexiteers, including those who now support the Brexit Party. But Gove must reckon that in order to unite the Conservative parliamentary party, it is worth giving ground on the date.

He contends that with more time to bring the Brexit negotiations to a successful conclusion, there is less danger of precipitating an early general election, which Jeremy Corbyn might well win.

On yesterday morning’s ConHome, hard questions were asked about Gove’s lack of popularity with the wider public. And a shire Tory who often reflects wider opinion among traditional Tory voters this week said of him to ConHome:

“Think he is able but behaved badly last time. Feel he was probably right about education and has some good ideas. Somehow do not like him. He lacks warmth. Boris has that.”

Gove’s admirers point to his remarkable record as a departmental minister, at Education, Justice and the Environment. He himself says it is necessary to show you can change things, not just that you can charm people.

When asked his opinion of Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a supporter of Johnson, told ConHome:

“I’m a great admirer of Michael’s. He is a brilliant speaker and interesting thinker who manages to get things done in government.”

Gove remarked last night that Margaret Thatcher was a former Education Secretary who was said by her critics to be fatally unpopular, but who led the party to three general elections in a row.

His admirers cite his brilliant winding-up speech in January’s confidence debate. He is the best parliamentary performer on the Conservative front bench, while Johnson is the best extra-parliamentary performer, who has regularly delighted large audiences at the ConHome rally at the party conference, and possesses an extraordinary ability to change the atmosphere on stepping into a dull shopping centre on a Wednesday afternoon.

Again and again one comes back to the comparison between Gove and Johnson. It is conceivable (I make no predictions) that they will be the final two candidates who are presented to the party membership.

If that were to happen, the press would present it as a continuation of the “psychodrama” between the two men. For in the 2016 leadership race it was Gove who – having until that moment backed his fellow Leaver and declared himself unfit to be Prime Minister – suddenly declared it was actually Johnson who was was unfit to be Prime Minister, and that he, Gove, was entering the race.

One of Gove’s friends observes with admiration his fondness for dispute:

“It is true that Michael would cross the street to have an argument. Verbally he is extremely aggressive – he will start an argument for fun – he doesn’t shy away from a good punch-up. That’s one thing that could make him quite a good PM – winding up civil servants and interest groups.”

Kenneth Clarke cast a less benign eye on this adversarial quality during the last leadership election:

“I don’t think the membership will vote for Gove. I remember being in a discussion about something to do with somewhere like Syria or Iraq and he was so wild that I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox, who is much more rightwing than me.

“We were exchanging views and Liam was raising eyebrows. I think with Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once.”

Yet Gove also has an eloquent and conciliatory “politesse” (as one observer calls it), and is wonderfully entertaining company.

Johnson too can be wonderfully entertaining. The similarities between the two candidates, though liable to be overlooked when the talk is of psychodrama, are striking.

Both were President of the Oxford Union, Johnson in 1986, Gove in 1988; both achieved early success as journalists; both became Conservative MPs, Johnson in 2001, Gove in 2005; both joined the Leave campaign in the EU Referendum, and helped lead it to victory.

The connection between them is indeed even closer than these similarities suggest. In 2005, when I was writing my biography of Johnson, I interviewed Gove, who remarked that at Oxford, Johnson “was quite the most brilliant extempore speaker of his generation”, and cheerfully admitted: “I was Boris’s stooge. I became a votary of the Boris cult.”

In October 2004, when Johnson, as editor of The Spectator, was ordered by Michael Howard, the Conservative Party Leader, to go to Liverpool to apologise for a deeply insulting editorial about that city which had appeared in the magazine, Gove composed a defence of Johnson which appeared in The Times:

“Alongside the disciplined ranks of parliamentary infantry, we need a few Cossacks, whose dazzling swordplay may not always hit the target, and may even cause the odd self-inflicted wound, but whose dash, verve and sheer élan help to lend the cause colour… So I for one am happy to say: let us acknowledge that his weaknesses as much as his strengths are all too visible but let us cherish this free spirit while we still have him – the MP for Henley, the People’s Boris.”

And during the referendum campaign, when Gove appeared for Vote Leave in a Sky News debate, Johnson fired off a volley of admiring tweets about his colleague’s performance:

“Brilliant stuff by the Gover.”

“Exactly right Michael Gove.”

“Dead right Gover.”

“Spot on Gover and great appeal at the end!”

“Gove hit it out of the park tonight at Sky News debate.”

In his column in Monday’s Telegraph, Charles Moore asked who in the leadership contest can claim to be a Tory. He gave Johnson 7/10, and wrote of Gove:

“years ago, my at-a-glance judgement had him down as one of nature’s Tories. He seemed to understand us curious creatures and offer protective habitat. Now I fear I got him wrong. His attacks on wood-burning stoves and the internal combustion engine have spooked me. He made a Friend of the Earth the head of Natural England. Is he that most unTory of creatures – the one who craves applause in the smarter London postal districts? Until the night he stabbed Boris, he would have stood at 8/10. Today, I fear, he is heading towards 4/10.”

Gove will bend every sinew in the coming days and weeks to prove he is a true Tory, and one who understands parts of the United Kingdom, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, where Johnson is weak.

So who is the real Gove? That is one of the questions which now confronts Tory MPs and, perhaps, Tory members.

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There are too many Tory leadership candidates

We changed the presentation our of monthly Next Tory Leader survey result the last time it was published.  We usually put a bar chart above the written summary and a results table below it.  But last month, we dropped the former, because there are now so many contenders that the chart is too big to fit on the page.

Admittedly, we could have shrunk both by removing some names.  Tom Tugendhat has indicated that he will not stand.  Last week, Philip Hammond said likewise.  Gavin Williamson was unlikely to throw his hat in the ring even then.  It is perhaps unnecessary for us to include David Lidington.  Jacob Rees-Mogg is backing Boris Johnson.

But for every name that we take out, we could put another in.  What about Steve Baker, who is being touted by some of his friends? (And under some circumstances by himself.)  Or Johnny Mercer?  Or, talking of people with a military interest, Tobias Ellwood?  All have been punted within the recent past.  We could quite properly include them – and more.  For example, Andrea Leadsom, who isn’t in our table, declared last week, as well as Esther McVey, who is.

Which raises the question: what is going on?  Admittedly, more Conservative MPs express an interest in the leadership than actually stand for it when the chance comes.  Some scratch around for support, find it wanting, and quietly pull out before it’s known that they were ever in.  Jeremy Hunt pondered standing in 2017.  So did Theresa May in 2005.

Next time round (which could be very soon), it will happen again.  This site has written before of an Andy Warhol leadership contest, in which a mass of potential contenders will be famous for 15 minutes.  Even when the mists clear, there are likely to be more than five runners – the number who stood in the first Parliamentary ballot two years ago.  The Commons Library note on Tory leadership election rules suggests that there’s nothing much to stop any Conservative MP who wishes to do so putting his or her name to their colleagues.

So what account for the increase in the number of hopefuls?  There seem to be three main factors.

First, the calculation by some of the smaller fry that they can push themselves, gather some support, and then strike a deal with one of the bigger fry: I’ll declare for you if you give me a Cabinet job.  Scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours (as low down as may be required).

But the law of dimishing returns applies: the more potential candidates there are, the fewer the number of Cabinet places that can be promised – assuming that any of the bigger fish are willing to make such pledges, and assuming again that these can be trusted.

In any case, this gambit explains very little.  It was no less deployable in 2017 than now.  But there were fewer names in circulation before the contest that returned Theresa May.

The second explanation is more telling.  Margaret Thatcher was an MP for more than 15 years before becoming Party leader.  John Major had served for more than ten; William Hague for a bit less long; Iain Duncan Smith for about the same time.

May had to wait for more than 20 years; Michael Howard for roughly the same period.  The big exception to the rule is David Cameron – leader in fewer than five years after entering the Commons.  If he could do it, some MPs think, then so can I.

Which takes us to the third and connected reason.  Life is speeding up.  It was ever thus – but the end of the 24 hour news cycle and the rise of social media has acclerated the pace of change.

Be Liz Truss, Instgram Star, and get on the front of the Mail on Sunday magazine. Or be Matt Hancock, and star in jeans and T-shirt at an arts and culture event.

And so on.  Some will hail these changes as an unmitigated blessing.  Look how many great competitors we have!

ConservativeHome is not so sure.  It suits us to run a list with lots of names.  But it might not suit the Conservative Party.  Indeed, it could be a sign that it now contains more impetus for splintering and faction, policy or personal, than instinct for purpose and unity.  It might be that having a lot of chiefs is the other side of having too few Indians – that’s to say, councillors and activists.  Perhaps the excess of candidates is a symptom of illness; of how years of rows over Europe have weakened the Tory body politic’s immunity.

In medieval times, strong monarchs meant barons kept in check which in turn meant civil peace (up to a point, anyway).  Weak kings meant strong barons which meant bastard feudalism and, in the end, civil war.  You will take your own view of whether Theresa May can usefully be compared to Henry VI.  But there may something in it.  There is a smack of The Hollow Crown about today’s Tory Party.

Dominic Lawson is on to the same point in today’s Sunday Times. He quotes Gilbert and Sullivan: “when everybody’s somebody, then no-one’s anybody”.  Without naming names, there are plenty of somebodies near the bottom of our table, commanding derisory shares of the vote.  Sure, one of them may ambush his or her opponents, as Margaret Thatcher did in 1975.  But one thing’s for sure: not all of them can.  The contest may or may not produce a Snow White.  But statistically, there are bound to be more than seven dwarves.

The next Conservative leader will face challenges unprecedented in the Party’s post-war history – perhaps ever, assuming that the election takes place soon.  Brexit is stuck.  The divisions over it, within the Party and outside it, are divisions over other things, too: culture, age, region,  – even locality: over how well or badly Britain does its politics.

Andrew Roberts’ book on Churchill is called Walking with Destiny.  May’s replacement may or may not have to walk with destiny, but he will need to stroll hand in hand with luck even to survive.  A Tory electoral collapse may be unlikely, but it is possible: the Brexit Party may be changing the rules of the game.  Maybe the new leader will be able to create his own team of rivals.  But we wouldn’t put money on it.

It’s all your fault, we will doubtless be told.  Your blasted website with its tables and surveys.  To which we can only reply that the causes strike us as ranging just a bit wider.  And in any event, no potential contender – none – has ever asked for their name to be removed.

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Profile. Nigel Farage – a career politician who denounces career politicians. With abundant energy and brilliant timing.

Nigel Farage illustrates in an extreme way the paradoxes of Brexit. He is determined to bring power back from Brussels to Westminster, yet denounces the politicians and institutions who would wield that power:

“Do you believe that this political class, that these two parties, that Parliament now need to be swept aside and replaced by better people?”

That was Farage speaking on Wednesday in a hard, angry tone at the rally held by his new Brexit Party in Clacton. Here is a career politician – an MEP since 1999 – who denounces career politicians.

And a conservative who poses a mortal threat to the Conservative Party. He joined the party in 1978, the day after hearing Sir Keith Joseph speak at his school, Dulwich College, but left it in protest at the Maastricht Treaty and joined what became UKIP.

Under Farage’s leadership, UKIP did so well it forced David Cameron, in his Bloomberg Speech in January 2013, to promise a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

When I interviewed Farage for ConHome in July 2013, I asked him: “Are you trying to destroy the Conservative Party?”

He replied: “No, I don’t need to. Cameron’s doing that for me.”

If asked the same question today, he would most likely say he doesn’t need to because Theresa May is doing it for him.

But that is an evasion, a way of placing the responsibility for what he is doing elsewhere. And it does not answer the question of whether he actually wants to destroy the Conservative Party.

While writing this article, it occurred to me that he wants to destroy the party unless he himself can lead it, or at least the large part of it which reveres Enoch Powell and believes in national sovereignty.

Farage has little time for the tactful accommodations which have helped the Conservative Party to survive for so long without splitting. He is an all-or-nothing kind of a person, who chafes and frets and feels an overwhelming urge to walk out unless he himself is in charge. His abounding energy has to find an outlet or he would probably feel he was going round the bend.

He was born in 1964 and brought up at Downe, a village on the North Downs on the Kent side of London. When he was five his mother and father, a stockbroker who drank too much and seemed wonderfully glamorous to his son, got divorced. She soon got remarried to a local businessman.

Nigel was interested in, and good at, cricket, golf, fishing, politics, and the energetic, risk-taking, convivial, monied life of a City trader. He went straight from school to a job on the London Metal Exchange, offered to him by a man he met on the golf course.

In his early 20s, on his way home from work after a number of drinks. he was hit by a car as he crossed the road outside Orpington Station. He took about a year to recover, after which he was struck down by testicular cancer, from which he also recovered.

His first marriage was to the nurse who helped see him through this. They had two children. From a second marriage, to a German, he had two more children.

In 2017 Farage described himself, while laughing uproariously through an interview with Rachel Johnson, as “53, separated, skint”, which he blamed on the 20 years he had spent campaigning for UKIP, for which he gave up his City career.

Within UKIP he fought some bitter battles with rivals, as Mark Wallace has charted for this site: “The old joke in UKIP circles is that there is one rule of the party’s perennial bouts of in-fighting: Nigel always wins.”

A more favourable interpretation of Farage’s behaviour was offered earlier this week by a senior UKIP figure who worked closely with him and still admires him: “Nigel’s sense of timing is always brilliant.”

This individual suggested that Farage made sure he was in charge of UKIP when it was about to do well, and handed the leadership over to some poor sap – Lord Pearson of Rannoch, Paul Nuttall – when it was heading for defeat.

The source expressed admiration for the brilliant timing shown by Farage in setting up the Brexit Party: “He’s got better – he’s learned – he’s got a new brand, without the baggage.”

Gerard Batten, leader of what remains of UKIP, had rendered it toxic by bringing in Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, as an adviser.

That gave Farage his exit line. He announced in December that he was leaving UKIP because of Batten’s “obsession” with Yaxley-Lennon and “fixation” with the issue of Islam, which had rendered the party “unrecognisable”.

There was just the right amount of time to plan, by 29th March, the launch of the Brexit Party. It is not in fact possible to join this party: all one can do is become a supporter.

Farage is back, and this time he has been able to keep things blissfully simple. He is in charge, a “dictator” as the admirer quoted above puts it, and there is not even time to draw up a manifesto before the European elections.

He is instead doing what he does best: giving millions of disregarded voters the chance to give the established political parties an almighty kick, in elections which are otherwise considered totally unimportant.

The Prime Minister does not appear to have seen this problem coming. According to Nigel Evans, joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee,

“I spoke to the Prime Minister just a few months ago and I said ‘whatever you do on these Brexit negotiations, you must not breathe new life into Nigel Farage.’

“And she looked at me rather oddly and said that she was more concerned about the Liberal Democrats.”

The assumption in Downing Street was that angry leave-voting Conservatives would have nowhere else to go, and that in any case, it should be possible to avoid holding the European elections, as the Withdrawal Agreement would by then have passed through Parliament.

The second part of this might yet happen, but at present looks unlikely. Farage seems to have foreseen better than May how the cards were going to fall, and to have placed himself in the position of the plucky insurgent who takes on the remote, unfeeling powers that be.

Compared to the inexperienced Change UK, which finds itself in competition with other small, pro-European parties and whose name fails to indicate that it stands for Remain, the launch of the Brexit Party was impressively professional.

Farage has brought with him people who know how to do the social media, including the short videos, which are required in order to look as if you know what you are doing.

He recruited some candidates, including Ann Widdecombe, Annunziata Rees-Mogg and Claire Fox, who cannot be dismissed as mere cranks, and who, whatever their incompatibilities might prove to be over the longer term, are for the time being united in wanting to achieve Brexit.

This site carried out a poll which suggested that three out of five Conservative Party members will vote for the Brexit Party – a result which indicates that under May’s leadership, the Tories could be heading for humiliation on 23rd May.

And Farage is fortified by the contempt of a considerable part of the metropolitan media, well conveyed by John Crace, The Guardian‘s sketchwriter, who wrote of him after this week’s launch: “Nige has only ever been about the glorification of Nige. The narcissist’s narcissist.”

That is a tenable view. Farage revels in the attention he so restlessly and successfully seeks. But it leaves out the policy, Brexit, for which he is campaigning. And as with the attacks by The New York Times and The Washington Post on Donald Trump, that sort of criticism, if noticed at all by Farage’s supporters, tends to confirm them in the view that he is a fitting champion for their disregarded opinions, because he is upsetting the liberals.

When ConHome asked Jacob Rees-Mogg what he thinks of Farage’s new party, he replied: “It shouldn’t have been necessary, had Theresa May done what she said she was going to do.”

Rees-Mogg said “the one good thing about it” is that it excludes Tommy Robinson, who “is well beyond the pale of normal British politics.”

He added that on 23rd May “the Tories will do badly in a completely irrelevant election”, but as long as the party can deliver Brexit, there is no reason why it should not do well when the general election comes.

So “Nigel Farage will have done something that’s politically important” if he forces the delivery of Brexit. If, on the other hand, “we just ignore it, Jeremy Corbyn starts winning elections.”

When asked about his sister, Annunziata, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate who is now standing for the Brexit Party, he said:

“I’m glad she’s not standing where I live. I would always vote for the Conservative candidate, but I wouldn’t want to vote against a member of my family. She’s standing in the East Midlands and Lincolnshire. If she had been standing in the South-West, I would have voted in London. If she had been standing in London, I would have voted in the South-West.”

As indicated at the start of this piece, Farage is not just about Brexit. He also wants radical change. Having stood without success for the Commons seven times, he is a long-standing supporter of proportional representation, and has described the first-past-the-post system as “bankrupt”.

When he talks of breaking the two-party system, he means it. In this respect, he is closer to the Liberal Democrats and Greens than either the Conservatives or Labour. In recent days he has said he will be setting out to win over the five million Labour voters who supported Leave in 2016.

But the threat he poses to the Conservative Party is greater. In 2005 I suggested that UKIP were “the lost Tory tribe without whom the Conservatives will find it hard to become again the natural party of government.”

Something similar may prove to be true of the Brexit Party. Farage is in some ways a quintessentially Tory figure, the voice of the irascible man in the saloon bar who cannot understand how the politicians at Westminster have made such a mess of something which ought to be so straightforward.

One wonders whether he feels a kind of disappointed love for the Tories, or for the Tories as they ought to be, dressed like Farage in an ebulliently traditional manner, enjoying themselves over tremendous City lunches, untouched by political correctness.

Like many hail-fellow-well-met types, his compulsive bonhomie conceals an acute sensitivity to slights.

In his autobiography, Fighting Bull, he provides evidence of deep feeling, but also of ruthlessness, as when he writes, after recounting one of UKIP’s vicious internal battles in which he ended up on the winning side:

“The lesson of history…seems to be that every political party needs a purge, just as many a habitat needs the cleansing but doubtless painful effects of fire.”

One cannot imagine the Brexit Party will be around for very long. It is most likely to rise like a rocket and fall like a stick. But just now, Farage is in the ascendant, for he offers voters the chance to express their fury with the Government for breaking its Brexit promises.

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Next Tory Leader. Our Survey. Johnson dominates the table. He puts on ten points and leads by eighteen.

Westlake Legal Group next-tory-leader-our-survey-johnson-dominates-the-table-he-puts-on-ten-points-and-leads-by-eighteen Next Tory Leader. Our Survey. Johnson dominates the table. He puts on ten points and leads by eighteen. ToryDiary Tom Tugendhat MP Tobias Ellwood MP Sir Graham Brady MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Nicky Morgan MP Next Tory leader Matthew Hancock MP Mark Harper MP Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP Justine Greening MP James Cleverly MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP David Lidington MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Amber Rudd MP

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-04-21-at-17.34.41 Next Tory Leader. Our Survey. Johnson dominates the table. He puts on ten points and leads by eighteen. ToryDiary Tom Tugendhat MP Tobias Ellwood MP Sir Graham Brady MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Nicky Morgan MP Next Tory leader Matthew Hancock MP Mark Harper MP Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP Justine Greening MP James Cleverly MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP David Lidington MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Amber Rudd MP

Here are Johnson’s last eleven scores in reverse order: 22 per cent, 25 per cent, 26 per cent, 27 per cent, 24 per cent, 19 per cent, 30 per cent, 35 per cent, 29 per cent, 7 per cent and 9 per cent.

Those last two scores are from before he quit as Foreign Secretary in the wake of the Chequers proposals on Brexit.  So it isn’t hard to see what is happening here.

Essentially, his resignation catapulted him to the front of the queue as the main Conservative opponent of Theresa May’s EU policy.  And the worse she does, the more he thrives.

The postponement of Brexit, the talks with Jeremy Corbyn, the return of Nigel Farage, the looming European elections, the sense of drift and paralysis…all these have bumped him up to his highest total since last August.

Note that he is not being punished in the poll for backing the Prime Minister’s deal third time round.  Dominic Raab drifts down by four points and Michael Gove back to single figures.

It is a paradox that this finding, and reports elsewhere of rising support for Johnson among MPs, may actually help May just a little.  If pro-Soft Brexit and Remain Tory MPs think deposing her will land them with him, they are likely to rally round her.

But does he hold his lead in run-offs against other main contenders?  Read more about that on this site tomorrow.

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