The Race To Be PM: Who Will Be Top Tory?

Boris_Johnson
Wikimedia Commons

After three painful years of her premiership, Theresa May has finally resigned as Conservative leader, firing the starting pistol on a race to Downing Street. So far, the unofficial phase of the contest has acted as an argument for stop and search disproportionately targeting Tory MPs rather than ethnic minorities. Despite this, it is worth attempting to analyse the prospects of each contender, their stance on Brexit, and how satisfied Labour would be facing them in a general election.

The new rules of the Conservative Leadership Contest are simple. MPs vote in secret on their preferred choice for leader. After the first round all candidates with less than 17 votes are eliminated. After the second round, those with less than 33 votes are eliminated. On each subsequent round the MP with the least votes will be eliminated until two MPs are left. The remaining two MPs will face a ballot of party members with the MP who receives the most votes elected leader.

Boris Johnson
The overwhelming favourite. It seemed Johnson’s hopes of being PM had ended when Gove plunged the knife into his back in 2016, a feeling that was only added to during his disastrous tenure as Foreign Secretary. However, Johnson’s casual racism and homophobia, coupled with his cavalier stance to Brexit have made him the darling of the notoriously radical Tory grassroots. His campaign has been a lot slicker than it was in 2016, with his team adopting a wise strategy of ensuring their boss keeps a low profile. On top of this, Raab’s determination to appeal to the members has seen him move to the right of Johnson on multiple issues, making Johnson seem somewhat moderate in comparison. As a result, Johnson is the first choice of most MPs, ensuring he will almost certainly reach the final two, while is popularity with the membership should result in his election. Providing he can avoid major gaffes, he should win.

While Johnson is popular with the 100,000 or so Conservative members the same cannot be said of the electorate. Polling has shown that most of the public believe he would make a poor PM. While Tories may hope his offensive style turns him into the British Trump, Johnson is unable to present himself a ‘self-made’ in the same way the President has and is instead a picture of privilege. His promise to cut taxes for those earning over £80,000 will only help the Labour message of ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ resonate with the electorate. Moreover, Johnson’s poor debating skills and his propensity for gaffes will make him Labour’s ideal choice as PM, especially if he pursues a car crash no deal Brexit which would be so disastrous it would make a Labour government almost inevitable. Johnson is so controversial with some Tory MPs that they have threatened to resign the whip if he becomes PM. His only plus is that his radicalism may win back voters from the Brexit Party, although this may not be enough.
Bookies Odds: 8/13
Declared MPs: 65
Chances of Winning: 9/10
Labour Satisfaction: 9/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit/No Deal- No extension

Michael Gove
Gove’s chances of becoming PM seem to be disappearing quicker than lines of white powder next to a Tory leadership hopeful. While the revelations that a posh journalist took cocaine is hardly ground-breaking, it does expose Gove’s hypocrisy. While he was a journalist he criticised a liberal elite for their hypocrisy on drugs, and as a minister ensured that teachers caught in possession of Class A drugs would be banned for life from teaching. With MPs already doubtful of his trustworthiness after the 2016 Johnson debacle, this revelation will hardly help his chances. Even if Gove does reach the membership stage, a notoriously conservative electorate is unlikely to look favourably on his drug habit. On top of this, his Brexit stance will not please hard-line members, with him not ruling out an extension to the Halloween deadline if a deal is close. Despite his struggles, Gove does offer a threat to Labour, he can be eloquent and could therefore potentially go down well with the wider electorate. However, his time as Education Minister could be an issue, with his education reforms despised by both teachers and young people.
Bookies Odds: 14/1
Declared MPs: 35
Chances of Winning: 6/10
Labour Satisfaction: 6/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal- Extension to secure deal

Jeremy Hunt
The man whose personality causes you to pause before pronouncing his surname. Sometimes referred to as a ministerial cockroach due to his ability to survive any disaster, the former Health Secretary saw himself promoted to Foreign Secretary under May. As the ‘stop Johnson’ candidate, Hunt is ensured the votes of the left of the party even if he moves to the right on many issues. While he has not ruled out no deal, party ‘moderates’ have thrown their weight behind him in the hope he can secure a deal. This support from MPs should see him reach the members’ ballot, however his initial support for remain will mean that he is unlikely to be elected by the members. Even though Hunt may be prone to a gaffe, he would not be the first choice of Labour to face in a general election, with his ministerial experience offering the opportunity to demonstrate competence. However, he has signalled his dissatisfaction with current abortion laws stating that he would like to half the deadline from 24 to 12 weeks. This disgusting admission would definitely be a Labour point of attack.
Bookies Odds: 9/2
Declared MPs: 35
Chances of Winning: 7/10
Labour Satisfaction: 6/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal/No Deal- No extension? (accusations of flip-flopping)

Jeremy_Hunt_Official
Wikimedia Commons

Andrea Leadsom
A political nobody in 2015, Leadsom’s hard-line Brexit stance saw her reach the final two in the 2016 Leadership Contest before having to withdraw after criticising May for her lack of children. Leadsom loves a gaffe more than Gove loved a trip to the toilets on a night out, yet her Brexit stance has made her popular with members. She favours a renegotiated deal with the EU that would lead to a ‘managed Brexit’, however October 31st is a ‘hard, red line’. Unless Johnson’s support evaporates it is hard to imagine enough MPs supporting her bid. Even if she is elected, her incompetence would make her a dream opponent for Labour. Leadsom will not win this election unless the Tories want to lose the next general election.
Bookies Odds: 9/1
Declared MPs: 5
Chances of Winning: 5/10
Labour Satisfaction: 9/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal – No extension

Rory Stewart
The man the Guardian wants to win that no one else does. Stewart is pitching himself as a compassionate Tory despite his appalling voting record that makes him one of the least liberal liberals in history. His campaign has been rocked by admissions of opium use, pretending to hold his own phone and a general lack of support. Stewart gives of a sense that he is desperate for you to like him with very little about him appearing genuine. While Stewart as leader may attract the odd Lib Dem voter who would otherwise feel guilty about voting Tory, he would not be too much of a threat to Labour. It seems the only people who want him as leader are centrists amongst the MSM. His odds of 25/1 flatter him. He maybe quirky yet he is not popular.
Bookies Odds: 25/1
Declared MPs: 6
Chances of Winning: 1/10
Labour Satisfaction: 8/10
Brexit Stance: Soft Brexit Deal- Extension of deadline

Dominic Raab
The former Brexit Minister who forgot Britain was an island. Infamous for resigning over the deal he negotiated, Raab has pitched himself as a Brexit radical. He has attempted to prove this by threatening to prorogue (shut down) Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit. While the Speaker John Bercow has stated this would not be allowed, this populist promise is likely to be resonatewith members. While Raab’s pitch seems to centre on him being a less-toffish version of Johnson, he appears just as odd without any of the charm. If Raab convinces enough MPs that he is the chosen one then he could maybe win round the membership, yet a Raab premiership will hardly frighten Labour. His message is too similar to Johnson’s to reach the final two alongside him, but he will likely receive a cabinet top job if the former London Mayor does win.
Bookies Odds: 25/1
Declared MPs: 23
Chances of Winning: 5/10
Labour Satisfaction: 8/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal- No extension

Esther McVey
The most radical of the lot. McVey is so repulsive that Lorraine Kelly, a woman who received a million pound tax break by arguing she had to act cheery on TV, could not pretend to like her. The former DWP Minister has argued that education on LGBT issues should be left to parents and launched her campaign with a picture of Margaret Thatcher on her podium making it appear the world’s latest ever memorial service. McVey has promised to purge cabinet of all but the most ardent Brexiteers, favours ‘managed no deal’ (this does not exist) and backs proroguing Parliament. She has little chance of winning the contest, but Labour would be happy if she did. She is a radical who will make Corbyn appear mainstream in comparison.
Bookies Odds: 100/1
Declared MPs: 6
Chances of Winning: 2/10
Labour Satisfaction: 8/10
Brexit Stance: No Deal- No extension

Sajid Javid
Having bizarrely taken to calling himself ‘the Saj’, Javid has the unfortunate task of convincing a party riddled with Islamophobia to elect its first Muslim leader. A secular Muslim, Ash Sarkar describes him as wanting to be played by Scarlett Johansson in the film of his life. In his attempts to be viewed as tough on terrorism, he stripped Shamima Begum of her citizenship only for her baby to die in the refugee camp. Prone to mentioning that his dad was a bus driver, Javid comes across as boring and forgettable and has virtually no chance of winning the election yet could be set for a top cabinet post no matter who wins.
Bookies Odds: 25/1
Declared MPs: 19
Chances of Winning: 4/10
Labour Satisfaction: 7/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal- No extension

Sajid_Javid_(cropped)
Wikimedia Commons

Matt Hancock
The first MP to have his own app and prides himself on being tech savvy. While he might be able to drag the Tories into the 21st Century, his opposition to no deal gives him no chance with the membership. Hancock believes that he can deliver a deal by securing changes to the Political Declaration and has recognised that parliament will block no deal. He is young enough that he could one day be leader if the party moves leftwards in future years, but he will not win this election.
Bookies Odds: 100/1
Declared MPs: 16
Chances of Winning: 4/10
Labour Satisfaction: 7/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal- Extension to deadline

Mark Harper
Literally no one knows who he is. His biggest claim to fame is resigning as Immigration Minister for employing an undocumented cleaner who was detained on the day of her daughter’s wedding, imprisoned at Yarls Wood, before being deported in the middle of the night in her pyjamas. Harper was one of the chief architects of the infamous ‘Go Home’ vans. He puts the ‘hostile’ in ‘hostile environment’. Its fortunate for Britain that he has no chance of winning. However, his leadership would provide an open goal for Labour.
Bookies Odds: 150/1
Declared MPs: 7
Chances of Winning: 0/10
Labour Satisfaction: 9/10
Brexit Stance: Hard Brexit Deal- Extension to deadline

 

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