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Westlake Legal Group > Liz Truss MP

Moore on Major’s part in Thatcher’s downfall, and why she considered women superior to men

On Monday night, Boris Johnson hailed Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher as “the greatest recent work of biography” and “the greatest work of modern British history”.

Johnson observed that at the heart of the third and final volume, Herself Alone, now published, lies “a single glittering and terrible event, an assassination”, and said of those who carried it out: “They are all honourable men, Brutus, Cassius and the rest.”

In this interview, Moore describes the conduct of John Major during her downfall as “not noble, but understandable”, though had she known Major was playing a double game, and was “shafting” her, she would not have “anointed him her heir”.

And Moore explains why Thatcher regarded women, not as the equals of men, but as their superiors. For women

“suffer from fewer illusions, they’re closer to reality, more conscientious, and more aware of the human factor, and less likely to be patronising, pompous and jargon-ridden.”

Moore has written a history, so declined to speculate about how Thatcher, who died in 2013, would regard the present Prime Minister. But he did remark on one of the reasons for her success:

“People were always telling her she must have a strategy. She said no, I mustn’t, because politics isn’t like that. So what she had is big aims, and big principles, but no strategy. 

“And this used to drive people, particularly with a business background, mad. Her phrase for it was, ‘We don’t want to get stuck on graph paper.’”

Johnson is always being told he must have a plan, when what he actually has is a big aim. He can perhaps derive some comfort from his great predecessor’s example.

ConHome: “What influence has Thatcher had on women politicians today?”

Moore: “Well of course a lot of women politicians admire her, or are very interested in her – Liz Truss for example, Priti Patel and Nicola Sturgeon – the last not being a fan in terms of her politics, but a student of how she did it.

“Only a very foolish aspiring politician, particularly a woman politician, would not be interested in her.

“There is a school of thought, I see, from Corbynistas that she is almost literally the devil incarnate – there’s nothing to learn from her except how to exorcise her spirit.

“But otherwise I’ve found that people right across the political spectrum study her, and the particular thing they’re interested in is, from the woman point of view, how do you do it, how do you thrive in what even now is probably a man’s world, though of course she so comprehensively shattered the glass ceiling that it is much less of a man’s world.”

ConHome: “You’ve said in the last few days that she reckoned women are better than men. Did she actually say that?”

Moore: “She didn’t say it in so many words. But she liked Kipling, ‘more deadly than the male’; she said the famous thing about the cocks may crow but the hen lays the eggs, and she said that men just talk and women do.

“And all those things plus lots and lots of other things amount to saying women are better than men as – not needless to say in every respect – but they suffer from fewer illusions, they’re closer to reality, more conscientious, and more aware of the human factor, and less likely to be patronising, pompous and jargon-ridden.”

ConHome: “Do you agree with all that?”

Moore: “Well it’s not really for me to agree or disagree. I think she exhibited the truth of some of those propositions.”

ConHome: “Did John Major help you with this book?”

Moore: “Yes, a lot.”

ConHome: “Because he’s quite astute about the whole thing, when she’s in desperate trouble in November 1990 and he’s having his wisdom teeth out, but his conduct is also a little bit underhand.”

Moore: “You need to read that very closely, and it’s very subtle and clever of him, the way he shafted her.

“And it’s important to be fair to him on this. He did shaft her, he did conspire against her, I think that’s undoubted.

“But it was very difficult for him, because if he felt there was good reason to think that after not doing well enough on the first ballot she ought to go, it was natural for him to have the ambition to succeed her.

“And if his nomination had gone through for her on the second ballot, he would not have been able to compete to succeed her.

“So that’s why he did this very complicated manoeuvre, which I expose, by which he only promised to nominate her on condition that his nomination was not used.

“And she did not know that. And if she had known that, she would not have anointed him her heir.

“So the effect was to deceive her. But I wouldn’t say the motive was ignoble. I’d say it was not noble, but understandable.

“Because she was going anyway. There was a danger of being linked to a corpse. He didn’t bring her down. He was one of many who did not try to prevent her fall.

“He was positioning himself very carefully and very well.”

ConHome: “In one of our previous conversations, you said that among other things she was ‘a great twister and turner’, as well as a conviction politician.

“Would you say that is an indispensable part of politics? You have to adapt to circumstance, and circumstance changes.

“People have this naive idea of politics that as long as you have a plan, and it’s the right plan, and you stick to it, everything will be fine.

“But of course, nothing could be more damaging, once circumstances change.”

Moore: “Exactly. Because if you say you’re going to go along that railway line, and in fact you’ve learned there’s a carriage lying across it, your promise to go down that railway line must be aborted if you wish yourself and everyone else to survive.

“And she knew that. The way she expressed it was always to do with her resistance to the idea of having a strategy. People were always telling her she must have a strategy.

“She said no, I mustn’t, because politics isn’t like that.

“So what she had is big aims, and big principles, but no strategy.

“And this used to drive people, particularly with a business background, mad.

“Her phrase for it was, ‘We don’t want to get stuck on graph paper.’”

ConHome: “Yes. In fact Boris is rather like that, having big aims, but no strategy.”

Moore: “Yes. She was more focussed in her aims I think than Boris, and she had more of them. And she knew much more about the detail than Boris.

“But it was the same essential political understanding of the need for tactical flexibility.

“A famous example is her capitulation to the miners in 1981. She wasn’t ready. Which made it absolutely clear to her that she had to be ready for the miners when they next came round, which was in 1984. And she was ready.”

ConHome: “The Tories are very good at putting on these tremendous leadership contests every 20 or 30 years.”

Moore: “Every 20 or 30 minutes now.”

ConHome: “Did her manners get worse towards the end of her time in office? I remember John Whittingdale saying he’d never seen anyone be as rude to anyone as she was to Geoffrey Howe.”

Moore: “I think they did get a bit worse, but I think it’s partly because the context was different. She’d been the doyenne, the senior leader of the western world, the longest-serving from 1982 onwards, and very dominant at home, with three resounding victories under her belt.

“So there were fewer and fewer people who could answer her back, and she fights fiercely if they do, and that deters them, and they get more resentful.

“Howe and Lawson were the only two remaining senior ones, and they fall out with her.

“So there’s almost nobody who can say, ‘Come on Margaret, stop it.’ Denis can. He couldn’t stop her remaining in office. He tried to get her out in May ’89, but she wouldn’t do it.”

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

Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Sep-19-1024x956 Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

Another month in and once again the Johnson Ministry appears to be holding fairly steady in the affections of grassroots activists.

There has been a slight downward drift, illustrated by the top scores no longer breaking the plus-80 barrier, but there are no ministers with negative scores and compared to the tail end of Theresa May’s time in office these are healthy scores.

Yet is it the calm before the storm? We are now only a month away from the October 31 Brexit deadline, which the Prime Minister insists he’s going to meet but nobody can really see how he can. Our next survey will be conducted as he runs into that tempest – it will be interesting to see what affect it has.

A few details:

  • Javid gold again… The Chancellor has seen his score slip a little but, as that is in line with the overall trend, he remains the most popular member of the Government amongst party members for the third month in a row.
  • …as Johnson slips… Last month the Prime Minister was ranked second by our panellists and just a couple of points shy of Javid. This month he slips to sixth after losing more than 12 points. Is this simply a response to various stories this month, or a foretaste of a backlash next month?
  • …and Rees-Mogg stumbles. It’s been an even worse month for the Leader of the House, who has fallen from a bronze-medal position last month to 11th place now after a fall of almost 15 points.
  • …but Brexiteers benefit. The beneficiaries of the above moves are principally Michael Gove, Geoffrey Cox, Dominic Raab, and Stephen Barclay. It is not until Liz Truss, in tenth position, that we find a Remainer.
  • Two departures. It’s goodbye to Amber Rudd and Jo Johnson, who both resigned from the Cabinet this month, and hello to Thérèse Coffey, who takes over from Rudd at Work & Pensions. Johnson’s successor, Chris Skidmore, is not attending Cabinet.
  • Wallace rebounds. Last month we asked what might have caused the Defence Secretary to suddenly slump to near the bottom of the table. Whatever it was, it’s passed – he’s now just below Rees-Mogg after gaining 20 points.

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Chris White: How much of the Government’s No Deal legislation is in place? And is it all truly essential?

Chris White was Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, when the latter served as Chief Whip, as well as to Andrew Lansley and William Hague when each served as Leader of the House. He is now Managing Director of Newington Communications.

The sense of stasis of the last days of the May administration has been replaced by a turbocharged Johnson Government.  Boris promised us energy in his victory speech, and we have certainly got that.

Michael Gove leads a slimmed down ‘war cabinet’ of key ministers to deliver Brexit and ensure readiness to leave without a deal on 31st October.  The Government is about to launch an £100 million information advertising campaign to help prepare the UK and businesses for the potential of No Deal becoming a reality.  The new Chancellor has said he will fund 500 new Border Force officers and identify new infrastructure at ports to minimise congestion and improve the flow of goods. The Government is certainly living up to Churchill’s maxim: ‘action this day’.

Yet in Parliament, the strategy is precisely the opposite. Inaction, avoid battle at all costs, man the barricades and repel the attempts by MPs to stop a No Deal Brexit. Last week I wrote about how MPs might attempt to do this, yet if Government does pursue this course of action in Parliament, will the UK really be ready for No Deal?

Brexit legislation

The legal default of No Deal on 31st October is determined by legislation, and no further action is needed to ensure this happens, unless of course MPs manage to pass new legislation to change or revoke the exit date.

The May administration planned a range of legislation to help prepare the UK for a No Deal Brexit.  The Customs Act, the Nuclear Safeguards Act, the Healthcare (EEA and Switzerland Arrangements) Act, the Road Haulage Act and the Sanctions Act have all received Royal Assent. As can be seen from the table below, there has been little progress on completing the passage of the remaining ‘main’ Brexit Bills.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-01-at-17.22.30 Chris White: How much of the Government’s No Deal legislation is in place? And is it all truly essential? Withdrawal Agreement trade Parliament Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP law House of Commons (general) Highlights Fisheries EU Constitution and democracy Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP border control

Do these need to be completed?

The EU Withdrawal Act 2018, and the large amount of secondary legislation passed by Parliament over the last few months, has ensured that EU law has been transposed into UK law, and that Ministers have the ability to amend it if needed after we leave.

Of the five outstanding Brexit bills, none are absolutely necessary for the UK to leave the EU and therefore they do not need to be completed before 31st October.

The independent and impartial Institute for Government recently published a report on “preparing Brexit”, pointing out that workarounds exist. Liam Fox, then the Secretary of State for International Trade, “told the International Trade Select Committee that the Government has the legal powers to carry out the three main functions of the Trade Bill without it being on the statute book.”  However these workarounds are not always without complications.  The Fisheries Bill also has a workaround, in that the Government “has prerogative powers that will allow it to set fish quotas in the event of No Deal – although use of these powers will cause friction with the devolved administrations.”

Instead, the Government is taking the calculation that is crucial to avoid giving MPs opportunities to insert amendments forcing the Government to ask the EU for an extension, as recently happened with the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.  MPs were able to amend the law, forcing Parliament to sit in October should the Prime Minister attempt to prorogue it.  The bills will be sat on, with the Government intending to bring them back to Parliament in the aftermath of the UK’s exit.

What happens if there is a deal negotiated with the EU?

If the Withdrawal Agreement is reopened, if the deal is renegotiated in a way that is palatable to the Prime Minister and his team and if it meets the approval of Parliament, the Government still needs to pass an amended EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill that reflects the new deal.  That is unlikely to be done in the short space of time that we have left before 31st October, and would therefore need an extension, which would first need to be agreed with the EU.

This extension would then need to be reflected in UK law, so that the 31st October date could be amended.  When the original ‘Cooper-Letwin’ Bill was passed earlier this year, the Government requested the ability to change the exit date in UK law using a negative statutory instrument, which was accepted by Parliament.  This SI could be drafted and laid in a very short space of time indeed.

No Deal is more likely than a bad deal

At the weekend Johnson, in the public rebuking of Gove, his new ‘war cabinet’ chief, made it clear that this going straight for No Deal was not the government’s strategy. He insisted: “we’re aiming for a new deal”. That seems increasingly unlikely with the public reluctance of the EU to remove the backstop. So as the dust settles for the summer recess and the Government steps up preparations for a No Deal Brexit, we await Parliament’s return in September to see if MPs will really accept that No Deal is better than a bad deal.

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Full list of Johnson’s Cabinet appointments

Here is the list of members of the new Government, so far:

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sajid Javid

Foreign Secretary (and First Secretary of State): Dominic Raab

Home Secretary: Priti Patel

Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace

Brexit Secretary: Steve Barclay

Health Secretary: Matt Hancock

International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove

You can follow all the latest news on our live blog here.

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

Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years


Westlake Legal Group June-2019-cabinet-league-table Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years ToryDiary Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Penny Mordaunt MP Party Democracy and Membership Ministers Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Highlights Grassroots Geoffrey Cox MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP Alun Cairns MP

Given that the next leader of the Conservative Party is set to be announced on 23rd July, a few days before the point at which we will carry out our next monthly survey, this will likely be the final Cabinet League Table for this ministerial line-up.

Some of those listed above will no doubt survive to serve in the next administration, but others will find their futures in doubt – and so may be looking at these numbers with a touch of hope or trepidation.

A few key findings to note:

Theresa May’s final score. The outgoing Prime Minister has featured in every one of these surveys since ConservativeHome began asking this question of our panel in January 2007 – covering the last 12 years of her total of two decades at Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet level. She ends that run on a low, with a net rating of -61.2.

An overall improvement in ratings. As a group, the total net score of the Cabinet plus Davidson and Davies rose to +92.6 this month. That’s the first positive score since January, and the highest collective rating since October (the month before May presented her deal).

As the chart below shows, this is still a pretty meagre level of approval historically, but it is better than the truly dire numbers we saw in March, April and May. Even the Prime Minister’s numbers have improved a bit, rising 7.5 points on last month. Why the improvement?

Some of it will be a symptom of the leadership contest, as candidates and their supporters gain ground by becoming better known and promoting their opinions and abilities. But, bluntly, some of it appears to be a first sign of Tory ministers starting to escape from the toxic reputation of the Prime Minister – a bump from May’s decision to leave office.

Westlake Legal Group LEague-Table-Net-Rating-to-June-2019 Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years ToryDiary Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Penny Mordaunt MP Party Democracy and Membership Ministers Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Highlights Grassroots Geoffrey Cox MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP Alun Cairns MP

Watch the leadership candidates – Hunt, Gove, Hancock, Javid and Stewart. Jeremy Hunt has certainly gained ground since last month, with his rating rising from +23.9 to +41.7. Michael Gove makes slim gains, up from +24.3 to +30.2. Matt Hancock is sizeably up, too, from +5.6 to +25.7. However, the biggest beneficiary of having been a candidate is Sajid Javid, who picks up a whopping 31.1 extra points, leaping from +22.8 in May to +53.9 in June. By contrast, despite all the publicity and his better-than-expected run in the Parliamentary rounds, Rory Stewart’s rating has barely changed, from -18 last month to -20 today. That’s a result in keeping with the wider sense that while he has ardent fans within the Party, many of his enthusiasts are currently not among the membership. Javid and Hancock appear to have reaped the most from the race.

A windfall for Boris Johnson allies? The current front-runner in the leadership contest is not, of course, in the Cabinet at present, so does not appear in this table. But it’s notable that several of the Cabinet ministers backing him appear to have made noticeable gains in their rating this month. Geoffrey Cox gains 20.2 points. Steve Barclay gains 12.5. Liz Truss gains 8.4. Alun Cairns gains 11.5. I wonder if they are benefiting somewhat by association. Penny Mordaunt is probably the most prominent Hunt supporter in the league table – having topped it last month – and receives an almost identical rating in these results, although she is leapfrogged by Cox, Javid and Truss.

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Johnson is set to face an early general election. His Cabinet must be ruthlessly shaped to fight it – on a No Deal platform.

Conventional Cabinet-forming means representing as wide a Party spectrum as possible, and sending Ministers to departments that they will hopefully run for several years.

The unique circumstances that Boris Johnson will face in a month or so, if as expected he wins this Conservative leadership election, require tearing up that usual wisdom – and taking risks.

No Deal is not Johnson’s preferred option (nor should it be).  But we will all know whether he is prepared ultimately to lead Britain out of the EU without a deal and honour the referendum result by the Cabinet that he appoints.

It must be one whose members are all signed up to No Deal if necessary, and an election if Parliament prevents Brexit on October 31.

For a Prime Minister Johnson will not be able to afford Cabinet splits, resignations, noises off – or election campaign rows.

Sure, he will, in effect, have no Commons majority: but that problem will not be solved by forming a Cabinet of anti-No-Dealers-at-any-cost as well as of No Dealers-in-the-last-resort.  That way lies the fate of Theresa May.

Instead, he must throw the dice.  His Government must push for No Deal if necessary.  Or for an election on a No Deal manifesto if his Government is no confidenced while seeking to deliver it.

If an election is forced on the Conservatives without Brexit having been delivered, only the most strenuous effort to push it through the Commons, without a deal if necessary, stands a chance of warding off Nigel Farage.

It follows that Johnson must be ruthless – and move as fast as possible while the authority of his expected leadership win is fresh.  Out must go Philip Hammond, Greg Clark, David Gauke plus, it seems, Rory Stewart, and others.

It seems unlikely that Amber Rudd’s affection for Johnson will overcome her anti-No Deal convictions.  So be it.  The diciest, most difficult task of all will be squaring Ruth Davidson and Scotland’s Conservatives.

Here is the kind of shuffle that he should now start to plan.  It is drawn up to meet three non-negotiable requirements.

First, its members must be prepared to sign up to a Johnson policy of Brexiting on October 31.

Second, it should, within that parameter, be drawn as widely as possible from across the Party.

Third, its members will ideally have some experience of the department to which they will be sent.

Finally, they should also be chosen with an eye to presentation skills during an election campaign.

We suggest roughly as follows.

– – –

Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Jeremy Hunt.

The expected runner-up must be bound in completely to the Johnson administration.  The new Prime Minister should delegate much of the day-to-day running of the Government to him.  Hunt will be reluctant to leave the Foreign Office, but could not refuse the promotion, unless he is determined to resist the October 31 deadline.

Brexit Secretary: Dominic Raab.

The EU must be sent the clearest possible signal that Britain intends to leave the EU at the end of October.  There could be none less ambiguous than sending Raab back to his old job.  That he knows the department is another advantage.

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sajid Javid.

The present Home Secretary is committed to that October 31 deadline, can be relied upon to swing the Treasury behind No Deal preparation, is economically literate, and in an election campaign would be an aspiration icon as well as an attack dog.

Foreign Secretary: Liam Fox.

The International Trade Secretary isn’t a Johnson fan, but he voted against the extension of Article 50, is a very experienced Minister…and not at all someone you’d want loose on the back benches in current circumstances.  He could hold the fort in the Foreign Office during an election’s duration.

Home Secretary: Penny Mordaunt.

The doctrine is that a woman must hold a great office of state, and it justifies moving Mordaunt out of defence, and promoting her.  Though a Hunt supporter during this contest, she opposed extension in the Commons lobbies, and was part of the 2016 Vote Leave team.  She is well placed to strike the right balance on immigration policy.

Defence Secretary: Michael Gove.

There is a strong case for sending him to the Foreign Office, to try to help heal the wounds of this contest.  But defence will be an important element of any election campaign, and Gove could be relied upon to make the most of it.  He may have no experience of the department, but he has certainly pondered the role.

Business Secretary: Liz Truss.

The Chief Secretary is naturally combative, gutsy and a reformer..  She would therefore be a risky fit in an outward-facing, voter-sensitive department such as education – at least during an election.  But as a critic of the Business Department, she would run it will an exacting eye, and treat the corporate lobbies with a healthy scepticism.

Justice Secretary: Robert Buckland.

The Prisons Minister is, in Tory terms, well left-of-centre – a stalwart of the Tory Reform Group.  He is also capable, a Johnson backer, and a realist.  Geoffrey Cox should go to the Justice Ministry soon, but is needed for continuity in the Brexit talks.  Buckland, a lawyer and former Minister in the department, will do very nicely in the meantime.

Trade Secretary: Greg Hands.

It may be that Government policy on Heathrow would prevent Hands’ return, but he was a Minister of State in the department, understands trade policy, and is one of the Party’s best-briefed opponents of a customs union, against which he has written frequently on this site.

Health Secretary: Matt Hancock.

He is running the department with an absence of fuss, has avoided NHS disputes, understands the relationship between technology and healthcare, brings enthusiasm to everything he does – and has therefore written the case, despite his Treasury ambitions and leadership campaign, for staying exactly where he is.

Education Secretary: Damian Hinds.

It is very tempting to give a new policy (showering the department with money) a new face.  The itch should be resisted.  In an election campaign, it is best to have someone in place who understands the department and the issues – and who can present calmly and clearly, as Hinds does.

Work and Pensions Secretary: Alok Sharma.

The Work and Pensions Minister knows his way round the department as a senior Minister in it, is a Johnson backer in this contest, and has been unlucky not to make it to the top table before.  If Rudd won’t serve or is too risky an appointment, Sharma would slot straight in.

Environment Secretary: George Eustice.

Like Ed Vaizey (never appointed Culture Secretary) or Nick Gibb (never appointed Education Secretary), Eustice is one of the club of Ministers-Or-Former-Ministers-Who-Know-Their-Subject.  An honourable and prescient resigner over Brexit policy, he is well-known to the farming lobby and would be all over No Deal preparations.

Housing Secretary: Kit Malthouse.

Now purged, at least for a while, of his own leadership ambitions, Malthouse served under Johnson during the latter’s Mayoral period. He understands the brief, is in place at the department, and would offer, as he would put it, “a fresh face”.  Bring the Malthouse Compromise into the Cabinet.

Culture Secretary: Nicky Morgan.

Talking of Malthouse, let’s reinvent Morgan.  Our columnist is the ultimate Good Egg, having both a strong sense of Party unity and a willingness in extremis to back a No Deal plan.  We don’t want to lose her, but she would be a more-than-useful ambassador from Johnson to the Party’s centre-left.

Northern Ireland Secretary: Theresa Villiers.

This is one of the most daunting appointments of all, given the challenge of dealing with Ireland’s Government.  Villiers is a Brexiteer who understands Northern Ireland, having served there as Secretary of State, and knows the players.  If anyone can square conviction, knowledge and diplomacy, it is Villiers.

Transport Secretary: Gavin Willamson.

Johnson has little choice but to return to Cabinet the man who has successfully managed the whipping of the first stage of this leadership campaign.  It is a very fine judgement as to whether to send him back to head up the Whips’ Office.  On balance, we think it best he be given a department of his own that he will run with enthusiasm.

International Development Secretary: Priti Patel.

The new Prime Minister will need supporters in Cabinet, and people who are committed to Brexit.  Patel fits both categories.  She understands the department, grasps the need for aid money to be spent wisely, and would slot in neatly back there.

Scotland Secretary: David Mundell.

This is arguably the most crucial appointment of all.  No Deal, or a No Deal election, presents particular challenges in Scotland.  Johnson’s support among Tory Scottish MPs has been minimal in the Parliamentary stage of this contest, and he should must be prepared to give the experienced Mundell as much leeway as possible.

Wales Secretary: Alun Cairns.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Party Chairman: James Cleverly.

Cleverly radiates a sense of confidence rare among top-flight politicians, understands social media, is calm on TV, has CCHQ experience, and is itching to do the job.  Now that his own leadership campaigning has calmed down, he can be expected to work well with Lynton Crosby, who will surely return.

Leader of the Lords: Natalie Evans.

Again, if it ain’t broke, etc.

– – –

Entitled to attend –

Leader of the Commons: Andrea Leadsom

Continuity knocks.  Leadsom has blossomed as Leader of the House.  There’s no reason to move her.

Chief Whip: Steve Barclay

This is a hard call, and there are arguments for sending for Williamson, or taking a quite different tack and approaching Graham Brady.  Barclay is a Leaver and an ex-Whip – at one point the only Brexiteer in the office.  He is calm, methodical, well-liked…and was a Johnson voter this week.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Julian Smith

Never sack a former Chief Whip.

Brexit Minister of State: Steve Baker

Johnson should cut the number of Ministers entitled to attend Cabinet, but he could do a lot worse than put Baker, under Raab, back in his old department in charge of No Deal preparations, and allow him to contribute when Brexit policy is being discussed.

Attorney-General: Geoffrey Cox

See “Justice Secretary”.

– – –

So that’s –

23 full Cabinet Ministers, as now (including Johnson).

Six women full Cabinet members. There are five now.

Three visible ethnic minority members.  There is one now.

Eight original Johnson voters in this contest plus four people who switched to back him.

– – –

There are a mass of Ministers and others who would need care and attention.  With no majority, Ministers leaving through the exit door, Team Johnson members queueing at the entrance, other Ministers champing at the bit for promotion and other leadership candidates’ backers to keep quiet, this will be the devil of a shuffle to manage.

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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

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From Reggie to Rory Sahib: My whip said the office is neutral for this leadership contest. Tell that to the marines.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2017-09-09-at-11.14.55 From Reggie to Rory Sahib: My whip said the office is neutral for this leadership contest. Tell that to the marines. Whips Sir Nicholas Soames MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Liz Truss MP Light relief Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Duke of Edinburgh Duchess of Sussex donald trump Daily Telegraph Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   From: Reggie@toptory.lidl.com

To: Rory.Stewart@Maiwand.com

Subject: The Boris Premiership

Rory Sahib!

I barely see you these days as you are on your grand tour of constituencies – Winchester to Wigan and Cardiff to Cromer – chatting up the locals and holding forth in Urdu and Sanskrit!

Lady Mary and my grandchildren are most impressed, and say you come across as an honest tribal elder. Trouble is, old boy – and I told this to Soames who is one of your supporters – it gets votes from other parties but few from the rolling-eyed zealots in ours.

Never mind: you seem to have enjoyed yourself and it will have brought back happy memories of trekking across Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whilst you have been on manoeuvres, we poor old backbenchers are being pestered by all the other candidates. Text messages, emails and being ambushed in the lobby by thrusting colleagues who, until a month ago, had never passed the time of day. I put my head down and head for the Smoking Room.

I have to say I find the whole business most depressing: a version of the Wacky Races and all kinds of promissory notes not underwritten by HM Treasury. Young Hunt doesn’t seem to know his China from Japan, Hancock is auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent”, the fragrant Esther is resurrecting Lady T, and Sajid is busy making videos.

And then there is Boris. Things must be serious because he is being held under house arrest and only allowed to speak to the Daily Telegraph who have him under contract for a million euros a year. His campaign team are issuing all kinds of post dated promissory notes – both Rees-Mogg and the Trussette as candidates, God help us, to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. You and I know that the only thing Boris can be relied upon is to let you down on every occasion!

Anyway, we now have the charade of MPs voting for the next two weeks and then our activists. The poor devil who wins will then face the same dead end as old Mrs May. Then the proverbial brown stuff will hit the fan.

It’s hard to think that only a week has gone by since the State Visit of that awful American who somehow won the presidential election. For the State Dinner, Soames and I dressed up with medels and regalia, went to the Palace early to sink a few tumblers of firewater with Willy Peel – Soames brother-in-law and Lord High Executioner. No sign of the Duchess of Sussex or Phil the Greek, neither of whom can stand D Trump Esquire. I wondered whether they had invited Corbyn round for the evening?

Apart from the civil service, who has been running the country for the past week? The Chamber is dead apart from the Speaker opining on everything and dropping bitchy comments about colleagues he dislikes. My whip said the office was neutral for the leadership contest – tell that to the Marines!

Soames and I managed to get away to Epsom for two days and were surrounded by members of the Turf Club desperate to know the odds on the PM stakes. I suggested a few pounds sterling on Mr Pumpkin our killer cat.

Hope to see you next week and Soames and I will take you for a seven course blow out at that new Afghan Restaurant in Jermyn Street, eccentrically named “The Old Etonian”.

Yours till lights out,


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Mordaunt leads the pack in our latest Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-May-19-1024x965 Mordaunt leads the pack in our latest Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Theresa May MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Rory Stewart MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Paul Davies AM Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Mel Stride MP Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP Karen Bradley MP Julian Smith MP Jeremy Wright MP Jeremy Hunt MP James Brokenshire MP Highlights Greg Clark MP Geoffrey Cox MP David Mundell MP David Lidington MP David Gauke MP Damian Hinds MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Chris Skidmore MP Chris Grayling MP Caroline Nokes MP Brandon Lewis MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP

*Note: Theresa May scored -68.7, and Chris Grayling -72.4.

This month’s Cabinet League Table is very much a snapshot of the end of a regime. With the race to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party about to begin, there is very likely to be a substantial reshuffle in the near future.

A glance at the above chart suggests why one is needed: only eleven Cabinet ministers record positive scores from our panel, and even the top-rated minister has barely hit +50. Here are some takeaways:

  • Mordaunt tops the poll. Our last two surveys both had her in fourth, so the Defence Secretary’s leap to the top of the podium will do nothing, so soon after she wrote for us about the leadership, to cool speculation that she might be about to enter the competition herself.
  • Truss holds on to second place. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has endorsed Boris Johnson, so no leadership speculation here, but her energetic championing of small-state, pro-freedom Conservatism is clearly striking a chord with the grassroots.
  • Davidson is back. Ruth Davidson’s return to the front has been noted, and rewarded with a 16-point increase in her positive rating. Were she in the Cabinet, she would have taken the silver medal position from Truss.
  • In fact, all three podium slots are held by women. Mordaunt, Truss, and Davidson are the three most popular Conservative politicians with our panellists. At present not one is running for the leadership, but it nonetheless challenges lazy stereotypes about the Tory grassroots and should give those MPs in the leadership race food for thought.
  • Although May’s score remains Stygian. Although she is at least scoring better than Chris Grayling this month, this score is a sour note on which to depart Downing Street and will cast a shadow over those candidates trying to carry forward aspects of her legacy.
  • Gove, Hunt, and Javid have respectable scores… Of the leadership candidates running from the Cabinet, these three are clustered together near the top of the table. Ratings in the low-to-mid 20s would not ordinarily look like endorsements, but alas these are not ordinary times.
  • …whilst Hancock and Stewart struggle. The Health Secretary is at least in the black, with a score of 5.6. The International Development Secretary however is on -18, scarcely an auspicious jumping-off point for any leadership bid.

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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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