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Westlake Legal Group > Sajid Javid MP

Tom Tugendhat: The last two men left standing in this contest must resist the temptation to slug it out

Tom Tugendhat is Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

In a contest which has been framed around personality, it is striking how many ideas have been generated by the Conservative leadership contest.  Each of the ten candidates original candidates had something to say. Each has championed a new vision of Britain, and each has given Conservatives plenty to think about.

It’s also showcased some good news about how the Conservative Party is changing. Which other party in any other country could boast a contest that included a television presenter, two newspaper columnists, an entrepreneur, an old-school adventurer, a second generation Muslim immigrant, or the son of a Jewish refugee? Not as tokens, but each arguing on merit their own cause as an advocate of an idea.

I backed Michael Gove’s determination to do everything he can to strengthen our United Kingdom and make this country a cleaner, greener place to live. But there are parts from other campaigns that were inspiring. I love Esther McVey’s promoting of Blue Collar Conservatism that has underpinned the Conservative movement for generations and Dominic Raab’s focus on home-ownership and cutting taxes for the lowest-paid.

Andrea Leadsom’s defence of EU citizens who live in the UK and the need to give them (my wife included) certainty about their future status is a proposal I completely back and Matt Hancock’s continued emphasis on mastering cutting-edge digital technologies as the key to our country’s future prosperity is one I have been pushing for since I discovered that parts of Kent are less well connected than Kabul or Khartoum.

At a time when faith in politicians is waning, Rory Stewart showed us just how we can rebuild trust not only through outreach but by talking about the real issues that change people’s lives.

And Boris Johnson? What isn’t there to say about him? He has picked up school places and tech infrastructure, taxes and the living wage and, closest to my heart in our in a time of educational separation – apprenticeships. That, along with his ability to animate the faithful make his contribution so powerful.

But he’s not alone. No one could be unmoved by Sajid Javid’s back story and determination. His pledge to recruit 20,000 more police is a welcome return to the values many expect of us – protecting those most in need. And as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve long admired Jeremy Hunt’s ability to master the widest of briefs and understand the details that drive change in our world. His commitment to fund our armed forces and diplomacy properly is also hugely welcome.

The range of these ideas gives me great hope for the future. Partly because they confound the lazy allegation that we have run out of them. Partly because none of them need be mutually exclusive. And partly because Brexit is the biggest shift in UK policy in generations with massive implications for everything from the NHS to housing policy: there is a massive opportunity for creative thinking.

While there is no shortage of ideas, there has been a shortage of leadership. We need a Prime Minister now who will take us through Brexit and confront the challenges beyond. The 2016 referendum, and the three years since our vote to leave, have revealed many profound political problems – common to many other countries – that we now have both an opportunity and a duty to address.

The poorest have felt the impact of the financial crisis hardest, while the benefits of our economic growth have been imperceptible to too many: especially those who do not live or work in our big cities. We have to build beautiful new housing that reflects the way we live today. We need to ensure that our education system is focused on endowing our young people with the skills that translate into career security in a world which has already been transformed by internet connectivity and will be further by automation and AI. Finally, everything we do must be sustainable. The policies we pursue today must not imperil our children’s future.

The temptation for the last two men left standing in this contest will be to slug it out. There is a real danger that the race becomes acrimonious and divisive.  We are at our best as a country when we are unified. I know from my time chairing the committee that has scrutinised both Foreign Secretaries that each man is above this.

Let us spend the next week scrutinising these two potential leaders. Then let’s unite behind whoever wins to deliver Brexit and a compelling vision of the future for this great country.

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

Jason Aldiss: Hunt’s mature pragmatism is preferable to a lurch to the right under Johnson

Dr Jason Aldiss BEM is Managing Director of Eville & Jones, and Chairman of Pudsey Conservative Association

The battle for the Conservative Party leadership is becoming increasingly robust. That is to be expected and even welcomed given the importance of the job both candidates seek. But I fear that the Party, which I have loyally served as an office holder and campaigner for many years, is in mortal danger.

As chairman of Pudsey Conservative Association, I recognised the hurdles we faced in the run-up to the May local elections. West Yorkshire is not the easiest place to be a Tory, even in good times. But, supported by Stuart Andrew, our hardworking MP, and a team of hardy volunteers, we managed to buck the national trend by taking a key target ward from Labour on Leeds City Council.

The city narrowly favoured Remain in the 2016 EU referendum. I am an unashamed Remainer and voted accordingly. Back then, I believed passionately that Brexit would be a disaster for our United Kingdom. Nothing has happened since to change my view.

As managing director of the company that provides Official Veterinarians (OVs) to the Food Standards Agency in England and Wales, I am acutely aware of the perils Brexit poses to the veterinary profession, the agricultural sector and the meat industry. Ninety-eight per cent of the 550 vets I employ come from outside the UK. Recruitment and retention were already major challenges before the referendum. They have become considerably more problematic since.

I pay tribute to Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart for their commendably open-minded approaches to allowing non-UK workers to come here and contribute to the well-being of our economy. In contrast, some of the anti-immigration rhetoric peddled by hardline Conservative Brexiteers has been misguided and naïve. The desire of some Tory MPs to outflank Nigel Farage on the right risks moving our party to a place on the political spectrum where it should not be.

A countless number of the doorstep conversations I’ve held with voters over the past two years have featured warm words for Theresa May. She faced an impossible task and I believe history will judge her favourably. I doubt that those Conservative Parliamentarians who sought to undermine her every move will be remembered so fondly.

I continue to oppose Brexit. But if it really must happen, it can only be on the basis of the Norwegian model. The EU27 have made clear time and time again that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened. I believe them. Brexit would have happened on 29th March if the pro-Leave ideologues had taken Gove’s advice and supported the Prime Minister’s deal. Attention could then have turned to the much more important negotiations on the future relationship.

Given the current arithmetic in the House of Commons, May’s successor will surely face an even more testing time, with a General Election looming large on the horizon. Mindful of this, I wholeheartedly agree with the warnings from Michael Heseltine and Ken Clarke that elections are won from the middle ground. Despite his many appalling failings, Tony Blair knew this, too.

Conservatives have a duty to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street. The man has spent a lifetime as an apologist for the enemies of a country he now wants to lead. His elevation should be a source of shame for the Labour Party. We must block his path to power. But by lurching to the right under a new leader, we risk collapsing the Government, crashing the economy – or both. It is time for calm heads and clear thinking in the national interest and best traditions of the Conservative and Unionist Party. We cannot risk going into Opposition at a time of genuine crisis.

Rather than slavishly follow outdated political dogma, the new Prime Minister must demonstrate a willingness to act maturely, think pragmatically and accept responsibility for the fate of future generations. I do not believe that a recast Brexit deal with the EU is possible by 31st October. Jeremy Hunt seems to reluctantly share this view. Neither can I envisage any scenario in which Parliament will countenance a No Deal outcome. Again, I credit Hunt for his realism on this, too.

On the other side of the leadership election, the British people have the right to expect that the victor will be frank and honest with them. There is no evidence to suggest that Boris Johnson is remotely capable of such behaviour. The campaign is providing daily encouragement that Hunt can take on the task and steer our country into calmer waters. Should he win, as I feel he must, Tory MPs and members have a shared duty to do what we do best and rally around. Otherwise I fear that the Conservative Party itself, with 185 years of history, may be running out of road.

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.

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

Interview. Johnson says that every member of his Cabinet must sign up to Britain leaving the EU on 31st October – deal or no deal

If Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, he will expect every member of the Cabinet to agree with his policy of leaving the EU on 31st October, deal or no deal.

He argues in this interview that there is only a “very, very, very small possibility” of no deal actually happening, but he says that ministers “would have to be reconciled” to that possibility.

Johnson maintains that since the failure to leave on 29th March, “we’re in a different political world”, where the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats are “feeding like puffballs on the decay of trust in politics”.

This means “the parliamentary mood has changed” and the Commons will not vote for another extension. He considers the latter eventuality so improbable that he declines to say what he would do if it came to pass.

But he certainly does not wish to call a general election.

Johnson insists he has “a very good relationship with Ruth Davidson”, and that getting Brexit through on 31st October will strengthen the Union, as the SNP will find it very difficult to campaign for Scotland to rejoin the EU.

Asked whether he had agreed to Sajid Javid’s call for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, Johnson said he had discussed this with Javid and “what we’ve committed to is a general investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination including anti-semitism”.

When reminded that he used to refer to Iain Duncan Smith, who has just become chairman of his leadership campaign, as “Iain Dunkin’ Donuts”, Johnson replied:

“Did I? I think I can say that to his face and I think he would be all right. Iain is a friend. The thing I admire about Iain is he has done a fantastic amount to take the Tories on to the agenda of social justice.”

Johnson denied his campaign team is a Boys’ Club, dominated by men, and pointed to the number of women who worked for him at City Hall.

He added that “one of the things I learned from City Hall is the vital necessity of arriving with a well thought through plan, having things ready to go”.

And he said that as PM he would be “the hireling of the people” and would have no time to complete his book on Shakespeare.

ConHome: “Brexit and all that, do or die. It must be the case, must it not, that every member of your Cabinet, when you appoint them, must be committed to leaving on 31st October, deal or no deal.”

Johnson: “Yes, that will be the policy of the Government.”

ConHome: “This means an awful lot of people will be automatically excluded – Greg Clark or David Gauke or Amber Rudd – all these people who abstained rather than have no deal, they can’t sit in your Cabinet if you’re committed to leaving on 31st October.”

Johnson: “Well, I don’t believe we will get a no deal outcome. I think that people who are determined like me to leave on terms other than no deal, which I am…”

ConHome: “But they’ve got to be committed to do it if you can’t…”

Johnson: “I want obviously to have a broad range of talent in my Government, the Government that I will lead, but clearly people must be reconciled to the very, very, very small possibility, and I stress it will be a very, very small possibility, that we would have to leave on those terms.

“I don’t think it will happen but they would have to be reconciled to it.”

ConHome: “One of the reasons why we are where we are now is that you can’t have an extension if the Prime Minister doesn’t sign up to it.

“So Theresa May has twice requested an extension because she thought correctly that the Commons would vote for one.

“What are you going to do if the Commons votes for another extension?”

Johnson: “Well, um, obviously I just think we’re in a different political world to 29th March and I think the Prime Minister’s decision to seek two extensions has done a great deal of damage to the Conservative Party and also to trust in politics.

“I think that people expected us to leave. The fact that we missed two deadlines has led to the growth, the puffball-like growth both of the Brexit Party, but also of the Liberal Democrats.

“And they are feeding saprophytically, like puffballs, on the decay in trust in politics. That’s where they’re getting their strength from.

“And they will continue to thrive until we get it done. And if we fail again, if we kick the can down the road on 31st October, if we continue to delay, if we treat this as a fake deadline, just yet another rigmarole, then I think the voters will be very frustrated indeed.

“And I think that our party, the Conservative Party, which I fought for for a very long time across this country, I think that we will not easily recover.

“So getting back to your point about Cabinet colleagues and the spirit of the party, where we all are, actually I think people understand that.

“And I think they also understand, intellectually, that you have to keep no deal on the table. Not only keep no deal on the table but you have to prepare for it actively and with confidence.

“And it’s very striking in the last couple of week, perhaps even the last couple of days, to hear some outbreaks of common sense.”

ConHome: “I think what you’re saying is if they vote for extension you will not go and seek an extension, because we must leave on 31st October.”

Johnson: “I’m not quite saying that. What I’m saying is that the parliamentary mood has changed and continues to change, and I think that actually, listening carefully to colleagues, and I will, and I’ll try to understand exactly where everybody is, and you know I will make myself totally available and try to work very, very hard to get this thing through – that’s been why I’ve been so pleased to get the numbers I did [in the parliamentary phase of the leadership election] – I think people can see the existential threat that we face.

“Here’s the choice that colleagues face. It’s a sensible Brexit deal that protracts the existing arrangements, that allows us to get on and deliver on the mandate of the people, that allows us to build a new partnership with our friends across the Channel, that allows us as Tories once again to build strong bilateral relationships with France, with Germany, to be pro-European, that allows us to get on and defeat Jeremy Corbyn when the election comes, that allows us to put out a fantastic agenda of modern conservatism.

“On the other hand, there’s voting it down, and then enraging the electorate.”

ConHome: “You’re basically saying the context has changed.”

Johnson: “Yes.”

ConHome: “And MPs won’t ask for an extension. I’m asking what you’ll do if they do.”

Johnson: “That is exactly what I’m saying. I think it has changed and continues to change. Several important things have changed in addition to the context.”

ConHome: “But if the Commons do ask for an extension, you are committed to leaving on 31st October. That’s an absolute.”

Johnson: “Well I am certainly committed to leaving on the 31st. I absolutely am. But I think it very, very unlikely that Parliament will want to kick the can down the road again.

“And my objective in this contest is to make it absolutely clear that kicking the can means kicking the bucket.

“When I hear from other candidates, actually there is only one other candidate left, when I hear from the other side that somehow 31st October has become again, you know, it’s turning into a mirage, we’re going to arrive at the oasis and find it’s not there, and that suddenly it’s been put off till the Greek Kalends, to next year.

“I really think there is no objective reason at all why we should not leave on 31st October.”

ConHome: “But are you ready if the Commons doesn’t do that, and does vote for an extension, and you don’t leave on 31st October, are you ready to face a general election?”

Johnson: “Well, it will be certainly not my intention or desire to have a general election, and in fact I want the exact opposite. Nor do I think is it the desire of MPs on either side of the House to have a general election.

“The public has been consulted in 2015, in 2016, in 2017. They don’t want to be pushed out to the polls again. They don’t want to be asked to vote again.

“And they’re quite right. What they want is for us to get it done and what they expect is for us to get it done on 31st October.

“And what they don’t want is more pointless can-kicking. They want a decision, and they want action.

“And that’s the only way, I’m afraid, to spike the guns of both the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats who are prospering mightily as a result of the indecision of the main parties, particularly our party.”

ConHome: “Do you accept that your candidacy is a problem for the Conservatives in Scotland, and therefore for the Union of Scotland and England?”

Johnson: “Well I’m delighted to have strong support from excellent Scottish MPs. I have a very good relationship with Ruth Davidson indeed…”

ConHome: “She was against you some months ago.”

Johnson: “Well, actually we have a very good relationship.”

ConHome: “I think you had Ross Thomson at the start.”

Johnson: “We have several Scottish colleagues now who are openly backing me. I’m very proud of that.

“And I would just make one point about the Union. I think the Union will be greatly strengthened by getting Brexit done in a sensible way.

“And if I were thinking in Scotland about who I want to govern the country, my country, Scotland, and if I were looking at the Government of the United Kingdom, and it totally failed to deliver on this essential request from the British people, and it couldn’t even do that, I would think well why am I being governed from London.

“On the other hand, once we get Brexit done, there’ll be lots of things we can do to cement and strengthen the Union, to champion the Union between England and Scotland, and the Union between Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Union with Wales.

“There are all sorts of ways in which we can show the value of the awesome foursome and take it forward.

“And interestingly, there are things we will have to do legally to underpin the internal market of the UK as we come out of the EU.

“And final point, do you really think that the Scots Nats, once we leave, are going to have a song to sing about leaving the UK and joining the EU?

“And joining the euro, joining the Schengen area, submitting Scotland to EU rules, losing control of fish in Scotland to the EU? Really? Absolutely not.

“This thing, far from damaging the Union, Brexit is going to make life very, very difficult for the SNP indeed. I think it will take away a lot of their arguments, and it will greatly cement and strengthen the Union.”

ConHome: “The Boris Johnson tax cuts programme. Just to clear up the business about the 40 per cent threshold. Is that the first thing you want to do, or are there other things you want to do with it?”

Johnson: “There will be a package of fiscal measures, most of which will be directed at helping people on low incomes, including lifting thresholds for National Insurance and so on.”

ConHome: “Are you waving farewell to what’s known as ‘austerity’? You’ve got this spending programme, education, infrastructure, broadband, and you’ve got this tax cuts programme.

“What’s going to happen to spending control?”

Johnson: “Don’t forget the Chancellor’s revenues exceeded his expenditure in February alone by 14.5 billion. There is money there. Of course we’ll spend it sensibly.

“I never like the word ‘austerity’, but I think both George and Phil Hammond have done great work in exercising restraint, in reducing both the deficit and debt, very, very important.

“But I think most people you talk to today think there is room for some spending, particularly on education, where I want to level up.”

ConHome: “Will you be able to carry on writing books? Harold Macmillan claimed to read novels in the garden at Number Ten.”

Johnson: “He took a Trollope to bed, didn’t he?”

ConHome: “When are you going to bring this playwright, Shakespeare, before a wider public?”

Johnson: “This unjustly neglected author.”

ConHome: “What proportion of that book have you actually written?”

Johnson: “The truth is I’ve written a terrifyingly large quantity of stuff, but it’s one of those projects that continues to grow in ambition as it goes on.

“But I want to stress that if I succeed in this job I will be the hireling of the people, and I will be working flat-out on their behalf.”

ConHome: “Why has Iain Duncan Smith been brought in as campaign chairman now?”

Johnson: “Iain is a long-standing friend and supporter. I’m a fan of Iain.”

Paul Goodman for ConHome: “This is the man who you and I used to refer to in our light-hearted way when we were Members of Parliament together as Iain Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Johnson: “Did we? [laughter]

“I don’t think that showed particular disrespect for the great man. I think I can say that to his face and I think he would be all right.

“Iain is a friend. The thing I admire about Iain is he has done a fantastic amount to take the Tories on to the agenda of social justice, and campaigning for the interests of the poor and the needy in society.

“He gets all that. His heart is very much in the right place. He has a great understanding of the Conservative Party grassroots, and he enacted some pretty difficult reforms of welfare when he was in charge of that area, and he also is a guy who understands the intricacies of the EU issue.

“So he’s well-placed to chair the second phase of the campaign as we go out now to the members.”

ConHome: “Have you deliberately gone up a gear? There was all the stuff over the weekend and before that, Boris Johnson won’t do any debates.

“You’re doing the hustings, you’re doing this interview, you did Laura Kuenssberg.”

Johnson: “I love campaigning.”

ConHome: “You won’t do the Sky debate.”

Johnson: “I had to do the Conservative Friends of Israel dinner apart from anything else, which was a long-standing engagement, which I wasn’t going to blow out.”

ConHome: “The cry is that Boris will go out and debate, but he’s not going to go out and debate until after about 8th July, when most of the members have voted.”

Johnson: “We’re doing all sorts of debates and hustings, and I’m very, very keen to use whatever contacts I have with the media, whatever debates I’m doing, to get across what I want to do, which is come out on 31st October, get the thing done, unite the country and beat Corbyn.

“Every opportunity I have to say that is good.”

ConHome: “Given that you’re quite likely to win, how much planning for Downing Street are you doing?”

Johnson: “Obviously it’s very, very important at this stage not to appear in any way to be taking things for granted. But one of the things I learned from City Hall is the vital necessity of arriving with a well thought through plan, having things ready to go.”

ConHome: “Have you canvassed the present Prime Minister for her support?”

Johnson: “I haven’t. I did talk to her today and yesterday about another matter. She didn’t volunteer it.”

ConHome: “You were too shy. You missed a trick.”

Johnson: “There was a slight pause in the conversation where perhaps she could have said.”

ConHome: “Had she wished.”

Johnson: “You never know. You never know. I don’t rule it out.”

ConHome: “Is your campaign team open to the criticism that it’s a Boys’ Club? And that Downing Street also, were you to get there, would be a Boys’ Club?”

Johnson: “Not at all. On the contrary. Look at my administration in City Hall, which you may recall, which was basically a feminocracy of one kind or another. We had about half and half.”

ConHome: “The claim is that at your morning meetings it’s all men.”

Johnson: “There are lots of female MPs supporting my campaign. I don’t go to these morning meetings myself, but we have lots of women working, look at the campaign team, go downstairs and you’ll see Charlotte and Ellie, and virtually everybody is a woman on the campaign team.”

ConHome: “In that BBC debate, when Sajid Javid called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, everyone said yes. Did you agree?”

Johnson: “Well I took it up with Saj afterwards, and he said that actually, if I understand it correctly, what we’ve committed to is a general investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination including anti-semitism.”

ConHome: “An independent one?”

Johnson: “Yup. Thanks so much, Ellie. Thank you very much. [She has brought him a mug of tea.] So yes, we’ll have to study exactly what Saj has in mind, but it sounded like a sensible idea when he mentioned it.”

ConHome: “In 1998, you wrote a tremendously trenchant piece defending Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky business, making the argument that all politicians are entitled to a private life and it’s none of the voters’ business. Is this still your line?”

Johnson: “Yes, yes. The reason I give for it happens to be true, which is that it is quite difficult to say things without dragging people in who are not political figures.

“All it does is divert people’s attention. It frustrates voters actually. They genuinely want to hear how I’m going to take the UK out of the EU.”

ConHome: “Have you found it hurtful to lose some of the popularity you had before the EU referendum? People who used to smile indulgently at the thought of you, some of them started to hate you.”

Johnson: “Well the great lesson of politics is that when you’re unpopular, it’s not something you should take personally, because what they’re taking against is what they think you stand for.

“The flip side of it of course is that when you’re loved, and when you’re popular, that is equally transitory and I’m afraid probably equally superficial.

“These are slight illusions, popularity and unpopularity.”

ConHome: “What’s your reaction to being called a coward by Jeremy Hunt?”

Johnson: “The eleventh commandment of Ronald Reagan, thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow conservative.”

ConHome: “And that’s the end of that? You don’t feel compelled to challenge him to a nude mud-wrestling contest? To have it out mano a mano?”

Johnson: “I would defeat anybody in such a contest, were I obliged to do so, but that’s not how I propose to win this. This is about coming out of the EU on 31st October. It’s about uniting our country. It’s about re-energising Conservatives with an exciting vision for our party and our country.”

ConHome: “Would you serve under Jeremy Hunt if he won?”

Johnson: “It’s always a great honour to serve in a government of any kind. I only resigned on principle over Chequers with a huge sense of regret.”

ConHome: “And you’d offer him a job?”

Johnson: “One thing I’m not doing is promising jobs to anybody at the moment, and I think that would be wrong. But I would stress that Jeremy is one of many, many talented colleagues that we have at the moment.

“I don’t think the Conservative Party in my memory has had quite so many brilliant people in Parliament. There really are a lot now.”

ConHome: “As you set out to reunite the country, what are you going to do on this question of Heathrow? Can we take it you won’t be lying down under the bulldozers?”

Johnson: “Well I think the bulldozers are a long way off. I will follow with great interest the current court cases, because it is still the case that the promoters of the third runway have a long way to go before they can satisfy the legal requirements they must meet both on noise pollution and air quality. And there are many people in west London who would say the same.”

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

Benedict Rogers: Character, values and dignity. Why I am voting for Hunt.

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

As a former journalist, a human rights campaigner and a Christian, there are obvious reasons why I like Jeremy Hunt. As Foreign Secretary he has done more in a year than any of his predecessors combined to champion human rights – and in particular press freedom and freedom of religion or belief, two foundational freedoms that underpin any civilized democratic society.

Hunt has also done more to speak out against crimes against humanity in Burma, for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and peace in Yemen than his predecessors. His decision not just to mandate the Bishop of Truro to conduct an inquiry into the persecution of Christians but to write, every day throughout Lent, to a persecuted Christian, speaks volumes about his values.

So too did his decision, on his first visit to Beijing, to meet the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers. And his statements on Hong Kong, a city I lived in for the first five years of my working life and to which I was denied entry on the orders of Beijing 18 months ago, have been far more robust than his predecessors. Has he done enough? No, of course not: no activist would say enough had been done. But has he shone, as a Foreign Secretary who prioritises human rights? Definitely.

But of course, one doesn’t vote solely on these issues. The challenges facing our party and our country are wide-ranging. Brexit is the most immediate and most obvious. But there are pressures on our public services, threats to our security, challenges to our economy and questions about our standing in the world. And the answer to all of these major questions is clear: Hunt.

Of the original 11 candidates, there were only ever four whom I seriously considered – Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt. Rarely have I had such a difficult choice. Rarely have I been such a floating voter.

I didn’t declare my support until last Thursday, when Javid was knocked out, for the simple reason that whichever one of my four favourites made it into the final two would have won my support. It was only when Javid was eliminated that I decided, when it came down to the final three, to declare my support for Hunt. Once I made the decision, the reasons crystalised. It comes down to three factors: character, values and dignity.

I have not really met Hunt. The only time we have encountered each other was just before Christmas last year. To my surprise, I received an invitation to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss the persecution of Christians – prior to his announcement of a review. Around the table were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Catholic bishop representing Cardinal Nichols, the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos, the chief executives of three charities, and survivors of persecution.

I was impressed by Hunt’s personal engagement with the issue. It was obvious by the fact that he allowed people to speak for far longer than they should have done, and asked insightful questions, that he really cared.

While we had never met before, when he called me to speak he addressed me by my first name, and as he left he said: “It’s great to finally meet you.” There’s no reason, in the great scheme of things, why he should know who I am, but he did and that shows an impressive mastery of detail and personal focus.

I first became aware of Hunt about 13 years ago. A colleague of mine was his constituent. My colleague is a living saint – the epitome of charity, compassion, justice and Christian faith. But he is definitely not a Tory – he is firmly on the Left. Yet he told me early on that he had become a fan of his local MP – Hunt – who, he said, was remarkably responsive, compassionate and interested in human rights. My colleague then brought a Burmese friend, the daughter of a political prisoner, to see Hunt.

I am inspired by Hunt’s emphasis on turbo-charging the economy, deploying his experience as an entrepreneur to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world’s most dynamic economy. A man who has made millions from a successful business, and known the hard grind of business failure, is more likely to be able to take us forward as a global enterprise than one who has never run anything except some precarious newspaper columns.

One handicap sometimes held up is Hunt’s conflict with doctors. But if you look at his record as Health Secretary in full, it is this: he stood up to vested interests, expanded NHS delivery, won battles for further funding and championed the NHS – all qualities we want in a Prime Minister.

Brexit must be delivered, and made not just to work but to succeed. For that to happen all of us, whatever side we were on three years ago, must come together. That means we don’t need a ‘Brexiteer’ leader, we need a unifier, a leader who is not marked by labels but by their ability to implement the referendum result. We need a skilled and experienced negotiator. That man is Hunt.

If Britain is to walk tall in the world post-Brexit, it needs a leader respected by his counterparts as a statesman, taken seriously and not regarded as a subject of mirth. And we need a man who is internationalist and outward-looking. Hunt is clearly that man. Just read his speech on building an “invisible chain” of democracies.

My mother used to live in Japan, and speaks Japanese. When I showed her the video of Mr Hunt delivering a speech in fluent Japanese with no notes she was impressed. To have a Prime Minister who can speak several languages fluently walking the world stage would help turbo-charge Global Britain.

I joined the Conservative Party at the precocious age of 13. In 2005, I stood for Parliament. I have been a Conservative for over 30 years, and I retain hope. In times of victory and wilderness, I have never doubted the Conservative dream and Conservative values. In ups and downs, in government and opposition, I have stuck with three things I hold dear: a Great Britain, a Global Britain and a compassionate conservatism. It is clear to me that it is Hunt who will deliver all three.

I have always championed the underdog – minorities in Burma and Indonesia, prisoners in North Korea, dissidents in China and Hong Kong. So once again, I am with the underdog, and I believe he can win. As the American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side … Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.”

Join me in backing Jeremy Hunt.

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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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Who’s supporting whom: David Jeffery’s calculations. 5) Meaningful Vote decisions.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-20-at-17.34.07 Who’s supporting whom: David Jeffery’s calculations. 5) Meaningful Vote decisions. Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP MPs ETC Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Harper MP Jeremy Hunt MP Esther McVey MP Dominic Raab MP Conservative leadership election 2019 Brexit Boris Johnson MP Andrea Leadsom MP   Conservative Leadership election: the breakdown of candidates’ supporters by Meaningful Vote decision

Source: David Jeffery’s Blog.

David Jeffery of Liverpool University has been undertaking some fascinating study in depth of the leadership contest on his blog – which we have quoted several times in the course of our coverage.

So we are this week running a selection of some of his most interesting findings. They and much more can be seen on his blog, which we link to above.

Jeffery declares at the start that “this information in this is correct as of 17:00, 13/06/2018”.

His study is of declared supporters from before the first ballot – so Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart are all included in his calculation.

The chart above shows the percentage figures. Obviously, it must be remembered that some candidates won more declared supporters (and votes) than others, and the percentages must be seen in that light.

Look at how deep and wide, relative to the others, Raab’s collection of refuseniks reaches and stretches.  McVey’s is deeper at the start but tails off later (and of course she is proceeding from a smaller base.  Johnson’s persists but is shallower than Raab’s.

And note, too, how small Hancock’s share of rebels is, and how soon Leadsom’s own limited band of supporters fell into line with the Government.  The opposition of Harper’s supporters in the Meaningful Vote was marked early and faded quickly.

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Andrew Gimson’s leadership sketch: Black arts, FSBs and as they come to the last it’s still neck and neck

The arrival of the Sajid Javid campaign in the Committee Corridor created a momentary stir. They were led by Robert Halfon, riding on a Roller Scoot which for this purpose became a Roman chariot rather than a mobility scooter.

They paused in the corridor for a team photo. Simon Hoare, sitting just outside Committee Room 14 with a Sajid Javid badge, shouted “Hang on! Hang on! I’ve missed every single photo!” and ran down the corridor in order to join the group, which included the candidate himself, Victoria Atkins and Chris Philp.

Mark Garnier, sitting on the other side of the corridor and working for the Jeremy Hunt campaign, called out, “I’ve got his phone!” – i.e. Hoare’s phone.

The Javid and Hunt campaigns traded jokes all morning across the corridor, Hoare quoting the late Bob Monkhouse’s great line: “When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they’re not laughing now, are they?”

Javid’s people may not be laughing now they have been knocked out. But they and their candidate gave every impression of having enjoyed the ride.

It would, however, be wrong to suggest this contest has been fought in a spirit of unwearying amity. It has also prompted colleagues to say faintly disobliging things about each other.

“I’m one of Jeremy’s greatest fans,” as one MP remarked. “I’d say there are only three things wrong with him. One is that he’s the Establishment candidate, the second is that he’s Theresa May in trousers, and the third is that he still looks like the head boy at Charterhouse.”

“Morning, Andrew,” a Johnson supporter said. “Second reprint looming?” – it being supposed, rather woundingly, that this column might deviate from the stony path of unflinching impartiality simply because its author long ago wrote a life of Johnson.

The tranquil figure of A.J.Balfour, Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905, Conservative leader until 1911 and a senior Cabinet minister almost until his death in 1930, gazed down from the wall.

When Frank Harris said to him over lunch, “The fact is, Mr Balfour, all the faults of the age come from Christianity and journalism,” Balfour replied with a childlike air: “Christianity, of course…but why journalism?”

The journalists in the corridor were determined to discover what “black arts” were being employed to fix the race for second place. The politicians tended to suggest with an innocent air that no conspiracies were afoot.

Sir Alan Duncan brought a historical perspective to this question. He remarked to ConHome that this is his seventh leadership contest, and recalled that in the first two – the fall of Margaret Thatcher in 1990 and the challenge to John Major in 1995 – Tristan Garel-Jones referred to MPs who fell away from the cause of those leaders as “the f***pig scumbags”, colloquially known as “the FSBs”.

Michael Gove, we discovered at one o’clock, is now two votes ahead of Jeremy Hunt. The race for second place is neck and neck.

Which of them will face Johnson in the final? One of his supporters expressed the clear choice now facing Conservative MPs: “If they want a gentlemanly contest they’ll be inclined to go for Jeremy. If they want something a bit more kinetic they’ll go for Michael.”

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Next Tory Leader. Our final survey of this Parliamentary stage. Gove is now second to Johnson.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-20-at-08.46.06 Next Tory Leader. Our final survey of this Parliamentary stage. Gove is now second to Johnson. ToryDiary Sajid Javid MP Next Tory leader Michael Gove MP Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Boris Johnson MP   Boris Johnson’s vote is rock-solid on the 62 per cent he scored yesterday.

Michael Gove has stepped into the gap left by Rory Stewart, now taking 15 per cent of the vote.

Jeremy Hunt is third, Sajid Javid fourth.

– – –

  • Will Johnson’s vote hit 157 today – more than half the Parliamentary Party?
  • Can Hunt hold on to second place (and will dark arts be employed by Team Johnson to ensure that he does)?
  • Will Gove overtake Hunt?
  • Can Javid somehow leap over both of them (again with the assistance of Team Johnson)?

We will know soon enough.

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Andrew Gimson’s leadership sketch: Conventional forces crush the Stewart rebellion

As the Prime Minister made her escape after casting her vote in the third round of the leadership contest, her demeanour that of one who has suffered a ghastly personal tragedy and wants to be left to grieve in peace, a schoolboy leapt up from one of the benches along the wall of the Committee Corridor, and took two or three jerky steps towards her.

She realised he wanted to speak to her, stopped, turned, gave a smile of grave politeness, and shook him by the hand.

The schoolboy returned to his seat and said: “I’m so happy I got to do that. Just the Prime Minister, the current Prime Minister!”

He did not want his name to appear in print, but there could be no doubt he was absolutely delighted to have met Theresa May.

This touching scene formed an exception to the general mood. The Committee Corridor was more often rent by eruptions of hectic gaiety.

It was like a cocktail party without cocktails. If anything, there was an even greater impulse to make joky remarks.

“He’s going to be the director of communications,” a veteran Tory MP said, pointing at a journalist who is supposed to be close to Boris Johnson.

“Oh **** off,” the journalist replied.

“He’s got the language already,” the MP said.

Boris Johnson arrived to vote with just one MP, Conor Burns, in attendance, hovering like a discreet and solicitous butler a yard behind his master.

Jeremy Hunt claimed everything is going “extremely well”. He added that he is “always an optimist” – a most unConservative disposition.

“Have you got the votes?” someone asked.

“I think so,” Hunt replied.

Sajid Javid seemed perky. “You were very good,” a passing MP told him.

James Cleverly, a Johnson supporter, made an announcement to a part of the corridor which for some reason was at that moment almost deserted: “This is the most unpredictable electorate in the world. We hope to continue to make progress.”

But where was Rory Stewart? Had he already retreated to the cave of Adullam? During the previous two rounds, he had been there in the thick of the fighting, seeking to save the souls of Tory MPs by looking them directly in the eye.

Last night, during the television debate, he had taken off his tie – was this studied informality a late, desperate bid for the support of David Cameron?

And then in front of millions or at least thousands of viewers he hung his head in despair – the emotion this sort of television programme induces in most of us, but not the way to hearten his band of irregulars.

He also made a principled on-air stand against the popular “you can have your cake and eat it” school of economics, by setting his face against tax cuts. He would not peddle the glib insincerities this ghastly format required.

Today, his supporters turned up late. Sir Nicholas Soames, a fellow of infinite jest, was despondent. Stewart himself looked grim. Only his wife, Shoshana Clark, and the MP who spoke at his launch, Gillian Keegan, continued to smile.

When the result came through, he had lost ten votes, and found himself knocked out of the contest. It was like one of those Jacobite rebellions which started so promisingly, only to fizzle out.

Conventional forces had butchered the Highlanders. What a horrible way to go. Hanoverian blood flows in Johnson’s veins, but did he have to be quite so brutal?

We refuse, however, to believe that Stewart will survive only as a mawkish adjunct of the Scottish tourist industry. He will be back.

Another of the defeated candidates, eliminated earlier than Stewart, explained with a wry smile what had gone wrong: “There was a difficulty converting private support into public endorsements.”

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