LIVE at 16:32
    • Latest Tweets:

Tuesday 23 July 2019

The Tory leadership contest finally draws to a close today, though the question is not who, but how much. At 11:45 this morning, Boris Johnson will be announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party, as near to certain as you could ever expect in democratic politics.

According to the Daily Mail, the margin of victory will dictate whether Hunt stays or goes, and other appointments too. Anything above 60% and Johnson is thought to have a “free hand”, difficult to imagine him getting less than that. Hunt is an insipid Remainer of course.

Boris will appeal to his MPs to unite behind him following yesterday’s disgraceful attempt by his former deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan to introduce a pre-emptive vote of no confidence to the House of Commons having resigned in the morning. Speaker John Bercow duly dismissed the motion. Honestly, the nonsense that arrives on his desk…

Duncan’s failure has not put off other members of the Tory Remain establishment. The Guardian reports of yet more plots this morning, Boris has been put on notice his premiership will not survive long unless he drops his No Deal pledge to the people.

You wonder though how strong their resolve is. Tory frontbenchers rarely put country before party, and we see this playing out. The Times reports of a charm offensive with No Deal “rebels”. Boris has held secret meetings with three cabinet ministers mooted to walk out and revolt from the backbenches, Philip Hammond, Rory Stewart and David Gauke. All three will still resign to save themselves the ignominy of being sacked, but it would appear the charm offensive is working.

Gauke said he would never vote against his own party in a Commons confidence vote, meanwhile Stewart used the old “Boris is forgetful” trope to dodge the question.

“I wasn’t quite sure he remembered who I was. I said I was the one in the leadership race who was not in favour of a no-deal Brexit. He seemed disappointed and surprised by all this.”

In today’s victory speech, Johnson will tuck into some policy domestic policy pledges in addition to his Brexit agenda, say the Sun.

He will commit to “immediate action” on a range of domestic issues, particularly social care, school funding and boosting business throughout the country.

“Boris wants to establish as soon as possible that he’s about more than Brexit. We are have to get the two big policy barnacles of schools funding and social care off the boat now, in case we have to go to the country in the autumn,” says a source.

The tax cuts will have to wait, most likely until after the next general election, and judging by what the Remain parties are up to, he needs to think carefully about forming a pact with the Brexit Party. The Lib Dems are running unopposed against the pro-Remain Greens and Plaid Cymru at the forthcoming Brecon & Radnorshire, currently a Tory seat, and are poised to win it.

Sanctimonious Jo Swinson was yesterday elected Party leader and is dead keen on forming such Remain coalitions. Until Labour get onboard, the threat will remain weak and the potential for damaging public bust ups and screw ups like in Peterborough rife. Swinson represents East Dumbartonshire, hardly a safe seat. The SNP are after it, having won it off Swinson in 2015. In turn, the Scottish Nationalists want Swinson to back off from their North East Fife seat where Stephen Gethins, one of their most senior MPs is sitting on a majority of just two.

However, the brewing chaos within the fledgling Remain alliance doesn’t mean the Tories and the Brexit Party, just two parties with multiple lines of convergence outside of Brexit, shouldn’t start thinking strategically, together. First though, Boris needs to honour his word and get us out of the EU by October 31st.

That’s how you win elections.