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Tuesday 11 June 2019

The nominations are in. Ten contenders are vying for the Tory leadership after Sam Gyimah – he who ludicrously marketed himself on a second referendum platform – dropped out. They are split 50/50 down the Leave-Remain dividing line, pretty ridiculous when you consider how catastrophic having a Remainer at Number 10 has proved to be, not that it ever seemed like a good idea.

The Leavers: Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom.

The Remainers: Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, Rory Stewart, Mark Harper, Sajid Javid.

The newsfeed over the next couple of days will be saturated with various launches. A couple took place yesterday. Dull as ditchwater Matt Hancock was rendered even more anonymous by a mess-up with the lighting at his launch event (see below).

Another vanilla candidate, Jeremy Hunt also kicked off his campaign yesterday, nothing to report there, other than the surprise backing of Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt.

Both cabinet ministers attended the famous pizza summit in October to concoct a stop to the backstop that never materialised. It was at around that time that Hunt began to pose as a Brexiteer, a posture that has since completely unravelled – he refuses to commit to leaving by October 31. But what else should we expect? He voted Remain.

Boris isn’t launching until tomorrow afternoon, but in classic Bojo style, the race is all about him. Westmonster have a write-up of last night’s hustings in front of the Thatcherite “92” group of Tory MPs. Boris destroyed the opposition with 34 endorsements, almost double second-placed Dominic Raab. Michael Gove only attracted the support of six colleagues.

On top of that are the many heavyweights backing Boris. Yesterday’s Brexit Brunch focused on the support of Steven Baker and Priti Patel. Also backing Boris is Iain Dunch Smith, who used a Telegraph op-ed yesterday to praise the former foreign secretary:

I have decided to vote for Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party leadership election. I believe of all the candidates he is the most likely to deliver on the requirement to leave the EU by October 31. He has grasped that imperative. While there are other good candidates standing, too many speak of how damaging this would be. How, I wonder, will the EU take their discussions seriously if they see frightened negotiators from the UK sitting in front of them?

Duncan Smith’s use of the word “damaging” merits consideration alongside this piece in the Spectator by Matthew Lynn (see also below) who points out that sliding economic growth is down to the uncertainty caused by the extension of Article 50 in April, not Brexit itself. Naturally, Remainers use these stats to portray a contrary picture: we need to keep kicking the can and eventually revoke Article 50.

You wonder, do they ever for a moment consider what they’re doing. They lost, the referendum, they have a duty to quit whining and make a success of independence.

Back to Boris, he is also supported by Theresa Villiers, who recognises the need to leave the EU soon and advocates WTO terms. Owen Paterson, who met with President Donald Trump is also onside.

“Boris is the only candidate who can win back the support of those who have left the Conservatives for the Brexit Party,” said Paterson.

Good point, but Boris wound need to deliver a sovereign Brexit first…