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Westlake Legal Group > Sajid Javid MP

Why an updated treason law would help to further community cohesion

One of the key features of Islamist ideology is that it categorises people by religion rather than by nationality.  Though this is far from the only reason for its anti-semitism, it is an important factor in the mix, and helps to explain a great deal.  Because Israel is a Jewish state, at least in terms of the inspiration that created it, all Jews are seen, in Islamist eyes, as indistinguishable from Israelis.  They thus become targets for terror worldwide.

This way of thinking is all but incomprehensible to most modern British people, used as we are to living in one of the world’s older nation states.  It is thus at the heart of the furore over Shamima Begum.  To her, and to the ISIS fanatics who groomed her, the United Kingdom has no claim on her loyalty.  Hence her departure to Syria in in 2014, her marriage to a ISIS terrorist, and so on.  That people can grow up in Britain without feeling any obligation to it stirs, in most of us, a sense of disgust, bewilderment and danger.  To ISIS and the Islamists, it is the most natural thing in the world.

All this helps to explain why our treason laws need to be modernised, made effective – and used.  For although the concept of loyalty to our country comes naturally to us, its expression has fallen out of use in our legal system.  Bringing it back in an improved form has been proposed by Richard Ekins for Policy Exchange.  His ideas are backed by, among others, a former Lord Chief Justice (Lord Judge), a former head of MI5 (Lord Evans), a former Home Secretary (Amber Rudd) and a former head of former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard (Richard Walton).

An updated treason law would help to solve the problem of what to do with ISIS terrorists and their supporters who are British nationals.  Sajid Javid and David Gauke have illustrated the institutional polarities of the current debate.  Javid, whose focus is on security, says that Begum shouldn’t come back to Britain.  Gauke, whose focus is on the integrity of the legal system, says that she can’t be kept out.  These tensions help to illustrate a wider point.  At present, the policy on ISIS backers and terrorists returning from the Middle East seems to be: hope they don’t come back; hope we can spot those that do; attempt to deradicalise these – and cross one’s fingers for luck.

There will always be problems in identifying people who have slipped away to Syria and now seek to slip back, and in gathering evidence for prosecution here under present laws.  It would be preferable for those who have committed crimes abroad to be charged abroad.  But a treason law would fill an important legal gap.  If there’s enough evidence for the likes of Begum to be charged, then they should be charged.  If there isn’t, then the combination of security surveillance and deradicalisation programmes must do, when appropriate.  At any rate, the reshaping of our treason law is well overdue.

One thinks easily of the need as justice-related, and as security-related, too.  But strange though it may sound, a modern treason law would be a powerful instrument of community cohesion.  Word of it would get about, even to people and communities who don’t speak English at all, and thus aren’t integrated.  The idea that one owes a loyalty to the country in which one lives would be furthered.  It is its absence that helped to create Begum.

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Bob Seely: The rule of law is an absolute. It cannot be dispensed with when we deal with ISIS terrorists.

Bob Seely is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for the Isle of Wight.

The case of Shamima Begum, who ran away to live under ISIS rule when she was a teenager, is deeply troubling. In 2015, aged just 15, she went to Syria to support the terror group, and was almost immediately married to a Dutch jihadi convert. She now wants to return to the UK with her surviving child.  Two other are dead.

She is one of hundreds of former and current ISIS supporters who hold UK passports, and who now may try to make their way back to Britain as ISIS faces final collapse.

Before I entered Parliament, I served with our armed forces during the campaign to destroy ISIS’ so-called caliphate. I was proud to do so. The territory that ISIS controlled, which initially stretched from central Syria through to Mosul in Northern Iraq, was a true heart of darkness. It was a revolting regime that mixed mediaeval theocracy with police state practises, and which advertised its death cult in infamous beheading videos.

Four years of bombing and ground force assault by the US, its British and French allies, our Kurdish partners on the ground in Iraq (the Peshmerga) and Syria (the SDF) have defeated ISIS as a physical force, but this victory intensifies a problem: what are we to do with returning ISIS fighters and their fellow travellers? What do we do with those who continue to nurture the idea of violent jihad in their minds? Getting our decision wrong could cost lives.

There is a natural – and exceptionally understandable – instinct to feel anger and contempt for the decisions made by Begum and others. The public revulsion has been rightly expressed by Sajid Javid.

However, it has proved hard to prosecute those who went to live in the ISIS-controlled area. As a result, Javid and his team steered through the Counter Terror and Border Security Act, which this week became law. First, it brings in a designated area offence, allowing prosecution for being in a geographical location without good reason. Second, it makes revoking UK citizenship easier. Third, it brings in Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures – ‘super ASBOs’ – to disrupt those engaged in extremism in the UK.

However, this law can’t be used retrospectively. In addition, if Begum is a British citizen and does not have a second citizenship, she has the right to return. This is not a negotiable point. It is illegal to make her stateless, and attempts to do so will see the Government in court. Furthermore, she was a child when she left. She has made some dire life choices, but her age should be taken into account. Either way, if she makes it to our shores, we will have to find a solution for her and for people who have done worse.

Public anger is understandable, but our priority must be public safety – and that means making some difficult choices.

In practical terms, it means continuing to develop intelligence on ISIS returnees. We need to be ‘collecting’ on both UK and other ‘internationals’ who served ISIS. We need to do so to be able to make judgements on their relative danger to our societies, how we monitor them and how they can be deradicalised. The more information we have, the more we can judge which returnees are a threat. Everything we do, including the deals we strike and whom we decide to prosecute, has to be based on that.

Back in 2016, it was reckoned that 700 UK citizens were fighting for, or supporting, ISIS. That figure now totals between 800 and 1,000. Of those, between 100 and 250 have died. UK air power killed some of them; the US and the French others. More were killed by our Kurdish the Peshmerga and the SDF. Other UK fighters who survived and who have a second passport will not be able to return – because they have been quietly stripped of their UK citizenship.

However, even if we identify most of those British citizens who served ISIS and are now considering returning, we will miss some of them. However good our agencies’ information is, some will have slipped through. Therefore, the need for information, on both known and unknown ISIS terrorists and fellow travellers, is our priority. The greatest protection we have against another Manchester bombing, 7/7 or Borough attack is knowledge.

We do not have to help ISIS terrorists and their war brides to return. But for those who make it here, whether they are prosecuted or not, there must be a price for returning and living their lives in the freedom that they denied others when they lived in ISIS-controlled territory. That price is information.

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Stephen Greenhalgh: The Conservatives need a stronger crime-fighting agenda for the capital

Stephen Greenhalgh was the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London, and has also served as Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

After yet another bloody weekend in the capital, Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced another in his long line of timid pilot projects.  This one to tag, using the Global Positioning System, only 100 habitual knife-crime criminals in just four London boroughs when they leave prison in order to reduce their re-offending. In The Times, Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has called for collective action to prevent violent crime from “scarring our society, terrorising our communities, and, most devastatingly, destroying the lives of our next generation.”

The Home Secretary has made a commitment to do everything in his power to give those on the front line of the fight, the tools they need to end the bloodshed. He has backed this up with the announcement of the knife crime prevention orders in response to the police wanting more powers to help them divert young people away from the dangers of knife crime.

So why is the London Mayor not using GPS tagging in combination with these new civil orders? Perhaps the Home Secretary can put this to the Mayor, in the cross-party serious violence taskforce that he is convening today. This is yet another example of the Mayor focusing on PR rather than the measures that will do something to stem the bloodshed on London’s streets. GPS tagging has been around for years and should be rolled out far more widely – not just to reduce re-offending but also with preventative measures such as these new knife crime prevention orders, gang injunctions, and criminal behaviour orders. With the murder rate and knife crime at a 10 year high, Londoners deserve a Mayor who prioritises the prevention of knife crime.

However, we also need more police officers in our capital city. This Home Secretary has risen to the challenge and is providing the biggest increase in police budgets since 2010. Police and Crime Commissioners all over the country are planning to recruit thousands more officers. However, the Mayor of London has let police officers fall to below 30,000 from at or around 32,000 when Mayor Johnson left office in 2016.  This is despite receiving a flat cash settlement from the Home Office. The Mayor needs to have a budget plan to increase officer numbers dramatically and this will not emerge with more pointless PR. Under Mayor Johnson we had a plan to release under-utilised police buildings, reduce overhead, and reform the policing model to keep police officer numbers high in spite of having £100 million less to spend each year.

Finally, if we are going to stem this mindless violence, our candidate for Mayor, Shaun Bailey, should pledge to bring in the technology developed by British scientists that allows frontline officers to carry scanners which enable them to detect knives and guns beneath clothing. These portable scanners can differentiate knives from everyday items such as keys. A widespread roll-out of this technology will give the police another tool that will enable the Met to ramp up intelligence-led and targeted stop and search so that we can get the knives off the streets of our capital city.

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Hunt loses pole position in our Cabinet League Table as overall ratings languish

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jan-19-Copy-1024x966 Hunt loses pole position in our Cabinet League Table as overall ratings languish ToryDiary Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock 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 Gavin Williamson MP Elizabeth Truss MP David Mundell MP David Lidington MP David Gauke MP Damian Hinds MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Claire Perry MP Chris Grayling MP Caroline Nokes MP Brandon Lewis MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP

Our last survey of 2018 revealed a Cabinet whose standing with the membership had scarcely recovered from the previous month, where we recorded our lowest-ever results since we started posing this question.

Has the New Year ushered in any re-appraisals or revivals of fortune? Alas, no.

  • Still 14 ministers with negative scores… And no change in the membership of that unhappy band, either: the Cabinet’s Remainers continue to predominate at the lower end of the table.
  • …but Smith almost breaks out. That the Chief Whip remains in the red doesn’t completely eclipse an impressive rebound, from -34.4 to just -3.8. Perhaps this is an outworking of the Government’s unexpectedly strong performance in those crucial Brexit votes – let’s see how this score fares after Valentine’s Day.
  • The rise of Leadsom continues. Last month we suggested that the Leader of the House’s big leap up the ranks might be a product of our readers’ loathing for John Bercow. If so, that well runs deep as she is up almost nine points and breaks into the top three.
  • Cox takes the top spot… But he does so whilst going backwards. Last time he was second-ranked with over 55 per cent, today he scoops the gold with less than 49.
  • Hunt loses his place on the podium. The Foreign Secretary records a serious fall, from over 60 to less than 42. We suspect this may be related to his becoming one of the most senior Cabinet members to float the idea of an Article 50 extension.
  • Javid falls into the mid-table. A loss of ten points takes the Home Secretary out of contention for the top three, reducing him to eighth place.
  • Are the non-Cabinet posts a barometer? Interestingly, both Paul Davies and Ruth Davidson have suffered some decline in their scores, despite neither featuring in any major stories and indeed the latter being on maternity leave.

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Our survey. Next Tory leader. Stasis as Johnson carries on leading amidst little expectation of change.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-02-03-at-17.42.51 Our survey. Next Tory leader. Stasis as Johnson carries on leading amidst little expectation of change. ToryDiary Tom Tugendhat MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Penny Mordaunt MP Next Tory leader Michael Gove MP Jeremy Hunt MP James Cleverly MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP David Lidington MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Amber Rudd MP   Theresa May cannot formally be challenged as Conservative leader until this coming December – a year after the unsuccessful bid to topple her by the European Research Group and others.  There are doubtless other ways of toppling a Tory leader, and her position remains extraordinarily vulnerable.  But there is no current expectation of moves against her before March 29 – or afterwards in the event of extension.

It may be for this reason that there is little movement in our Next Tory Leader survey this month.  Boris Johnson leads on 26 per cent, 14 points more than the next contender, Dominic Raab.  Last month the latter was on the same total and Johnson’s rating was a point higher.  Michael Gove is up to third from three per cent to nine per cent.  Perhaps his swashbuckling winding-up speech in the recent no confidence vote provides the explanation.

Otherwise the main point to note is the gradual decline of Sajid Javid.  In our October survey he was second, and a point off Boris Johnson, on 19 per cent.  His scores since have been 12 per cent, 13 per cent and this month seven per cent.  There is no obvious explanation for the drop.  Against a background of very little media leadership speculation indeed, the pattern of the table suggests that many respondents have only half an eye on the prospect of change, if that.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-02-03-at-17.43.11 Our survey. Next Tory leader. Stasis as Johnson carries on leading amidst little expectation of change. ToryDiary Tom Tugendhat MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Penny Mordaunt MP Next Tory leader Michael Gove MP Jeremy Hunt MP James Cleverly MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP David Lidington MP David Davis MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Amber Rudd MP   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: Javid insists UK will be “a very safe country” in the event of no deal

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Simon Marcus: Marxist ideology. Lax courts – and May’s legacy. All have helped to create the new era of gang crime.

Simon Marcus is co-founder of the Boxing Academy, is a former adviser to the Coalition Government and contested Hampstead and Kilburn at the 2015 election.

The solutions to gang crime are straightforward and proven to work. The problem is that our political establishment, now captured by left-wing ideology, doesn’t want to hear about them. So while politicians remain in denial, the death toll grows.

Sadiq Khan helps to illustrate the problem. In a recent attempt to tackle gang crime he embraced the strategy of Glasgow’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which cut knife crime through a collaborative approach with police, schools, hospitals and other public services.

All well and good. But Khan missed out the other half. Knife crime in Galsgow fell to 40 year lows because Stop and Search reached levels of one in five men, police numbers stayed at all time highs, and arrest levels were higher than in England, as were sentences for repeat offenders. It was this, combined with the VRU, that delivered results.

But that’s out of the question in London. Last year, when Khan suggested a small increase in ‘targeted’ stop and search, he was accused of playing ‘political football’ by David Lammy and rebuked by race campaigners. So, instead, the demanded that the police overhaul their gang crime database or ‘Matrix,’ because 80 per cent of those on it were black, and some were as young as 12.

He shouldn’t have.  Ninety-six per cent of those on the ‘Matrix’ had been sanctioned for a criminal offence – 79 per cent for ‘violence, weapons or robbery.’ Tragically, little has changed since 2003, when Diane Abbott bravely noted that 80 per cent of gun crime in London was black on black. Indeed, a recent freedom of information request showed half of all murder suspects and victims in London are still black, even though the black population of London is only 13 per cent.

Yet many, like Lammy, say that Stop and Search is “dispropportionate” and entertains a “racist fantasy”. He plays a high standard of ‘political football’ too, blaming gang violence on Eastern European mafias and “Tory cuts”. He should know better. Following the riots of 2011, which began on his patch, Stop and Search went through the roof; there were more arrests; longer sentences for repeat offenders, and London saw big falls in crime. These falls were reversed when many of those offenders were let out a year or two later.

Forgetting the lessons of the past is no accident in this case. It arises from a mindset shaped by the leftist ideology that has marched through our institutions. At its root is the Marxist principle that crime is caused by inequality and injustice inherent in the capitalist system. The Equality Trust for example, believes that our violent crime wave is rooted in  ‘inequality, deprivation and massive status anxiety,’ and tells us that ‘we need to admit that every…police officer…prison officer and trauma surgeon with a specialism in treating knife or gunshot wounds is, at root, a measure of our failure as a society.’

University departments produce countless research papers supporting this view, the Guardian newspaper repeats it almost every day and even some police commanders are keen to agree.

This is dangerous, because it apportions moral status based on relative power and social position. The ‘oppressed’ can do no wrong and the ‘oppressor’ can do no right. It also means that criminals have a built-in excuse: to punish them is to blame the victim, and the police are seen as the problem and more public spending the solution.

A simple observation bursts this ideological bubble – namely, that the vast majority of those in poverty commit no crimes at all. In fact, many work very hard to build strong and happy communities and they are not worried about their status.  The link between poverty and crime becomes even less clear when figures show that crime went down during the last recession and that, since then, inequality has fallen, with unemployment at historical lows. Indeed, our current gang crime epidemic has become entrenched during one of the biggest economic booms in history.

The charity sector also enjoyed the good times but, despite a record income of £75 billion last year, it has failed to find the solutions to gang crime. Instead, too many within it still prefer the virtue-signalling explanations of blame, victimhood and race politics.

The Conservative Party is also moving that way, judging by the reaction to Sajid Javid’s recent knife crime announcements. He wanted those who breached their Knife Prevention Orders to face jail. Common sense, you might think. But David Gauke belittled the suggestion: a “Whitehall source” claimed that Javid was “grandstanding on knife crime” and the Howard League for Penal Reform said that he was “playing politics”.

Strangely, Javid’s critics neither acknowledged that knife crime was out of control nor that strong action was required. But it was the tone of derision and refusal to engage that gave the game away. Ad hominem attacks are designed to silence debate and a sure sign of ideological groupthink, which is why almost no one in the Conservative Party defended Javid.

Why would they? When Theresa May was Home Secretary, she managed to cut police numbers, Stop and Search, arrest levels, prison sentences, and violence reduction projects all at the same time. It was a win-win for all the wrong reasons. May gained favour with the Treasury, looked tough on police corruption and signalled her anti-racist credentials. Labour were happy for the police to be clobbered – until crime went through the roof and it became a convenient ‘political football’.

The law courts do their bit, too, and last year 19,634 violent offenders with ten or more previous convictions or cautions avoided jail.  Most of these will re-offend and damage countless lives, but if we are a “failure as a society’”, perhaps we deserve it? We don’t – and nor do the black boys stabbed to death in London, because left-wing ideology has stopped the police from doing their job.

But this is where we are.  While white boys are being saved in Glasgow, a new era of gang crime has become rationalised in London and it will continue until our leaders come to their senses. Yes, we need collaborative approaches, and Stop and Search needs to be accountable. But if you stop the police from doing their job, cut numbers, let violent repeat offenders go free and hide behind dodgy research then don’t ask why crime goes through the roof and the very people you claim to care about are the ones dying.

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This rotting Cabinet

If Theresa May loses the Commons vote on her deal next week, she will make a statement to the House about her response plans.  Note the way that last sentence is written.

It doesn’t say: “the Government’s plans” or “the Cabinet’s plans” (which are, in effect, the same).  This is because the latter collectively – and as far as can be discerned its members individually – don’t know what these might be.  She could announce her resignation.  She could throw the Government’s weight behind No Deal.  Or No Brexit.  Or an extension to Article 50, rather than revocation – perhaps with a second referendum in mind, perhaps not.  Or the Norway or Canada-type deals that she has rejected.  Or some other variant that no-one has anticipated.  Or say that her deal has clearly failed, and that she is now the servant of the Commons, paving her way for indicative votes.

Or, most likely of all, play for time, say that she will re-open her conversations with Brussels to seek real movement on the Northern Ireland backstop.  The logic of her present position is to do exactly that: the closer to March 29 she gets, the more pressure will come to bear on the EU to make concessions, real or token, and on MPs to back her deal, for fear of the No Deal or No Brexit to which different groups of them are opposed.  This is the logic of her game of chicken.

Some of those other options are more likely than others, and some can be ruled out altogether. Openly throwing her weight behind No Deal would risk a small number of Remain-orientated Conservative MPs voting with Jeremy Corbyn in the a confidence vote.  Backing No Brexit would divide the Conservative Party to the point where it might split altogether.  This takes us back to where we started – the role of the Cabinet.

The Prime Minister will not go to the Commons with plans without discussing them with the Cabinet first: that would clearly be a risk too far.  But it is striking that, less than a week out from the “meaningful vote”, its members have no idea what these might be.  It is possible that May doesn’t know herself.  But if she does, she is not the sort of person to take her colleagues into her confidence, especially under current circumstances.  One Cabinet Minister wearily told ConservativeHome late last year that “the problem with Theresa is that doesn’t trust anyone”.  Until the last general election, her inner circle consisted of three people: Nick Timothy, Fiona Hill – and Philip May.  Only one of them survives.

The conventional wisdom is: big majority, strong Prime Minister, weak Cabinet; small majority, weak Prime Minister, strong Cabinet.  In some senses, it holds true.  Consider an example from this morning.  On the one hand, Greg Clark is preparing his department for No Deal.  On the other, he today urges Parliament to “move quickly and act responsibly to establish what will, and will not, command support. Parliament can establish that it wants a no-deal Brexit to be ruled out”.  In short, he is urging MPs to seek to block No Deal if May’s deal falls – thereby urging them to oppose an outcome which he is tasked to prepare for.  This is not the Government position.

In one sense, Clark should resign.  In another, one can’t really blame him for not doing so.  After all, Cabinet disciple has broken down altogether, with its members openly briefly journalists about what they plan to say in its meetings, and reporting back about what happens afterwards.  Why should the Business Secretary quit while others stay?  One senior member of the lobby told ConservativeHome yesterday that this is the leakiest Cabinet in his experience – not, he added, that any journalists should complain about it.  “It’s a political Mogadishu out there,” he said, presumably thinking back to Black Hawk Down, “with Cabinet members firing off their machine guns from the back of trucks”.

None the less, there is reason to argue that what we are actually seeing is: small majority, weak Prime Minister, weak Cabinet.  The ultimate weapon of an unhappy Cabinet member is the threat of resignation.  But May has survived the loss of four Cabinet members in scarcely more than six months: David Davis, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey.  The last discovered the hard way that the Prime Minister controls the agenda and minutes of Cabinet meetings, and that there are no votes.

Those Leavers who didn’t resign over the deal have been forced to swallow the logic of their decision.  The Michael Gove who joked in Cabinet this week about anti-deal Conservative MPs was recently such a person himself – turning down the Brexit Secretary post rather than propound the Prime Minister’s position.  At Cabinet level, passive acceptance of a view must ultimately morph into active propagandising for it.

Short of resignation, there is always the more politicianly option of working with Cabinet colleagues to shift the Prime Minister’s position.  But this takes us to the heart of the matter.  There is no Cabinet consensus about what to do if the deal goes down.  Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and the surviving referendum Leavers lean towards No Deal in extremis.  Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Clark and others are setting themselves against No Deal completely.  Furthermore, May, though scarred by last month’s confidence ballot, survived it.  She cannot be formally challenged as Party leader until the end of this year.  In a way, then, she now draws power from her Cabinet’s divisions and indecision.  In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed woman is queen.

The European Union complains that the Government doesn’t know where it wants to end up.  Closely aligned to the EU or more distant?  Norway or Canada?  It is absolutely right.

Cabinet members are united on one point, however.  All now hope that May’s deal passes Parliament, if not next week, then later.  And, collectively, they will carry on hoping – as authority drains away from them to Dominic Grieve, Steve Baker, and the Opposition, among whose numbers we of naturally include the Speaker.  This Cabinet is firewood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tory Voters

(per cent)

Tory Members

(per cent)


(per cent)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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