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Thursday 20 June 2019

The Conservative Party’s most recent venture into madness ended yesterday as Rory Stewart’s deeply flawed campaign for the Conservative Party leadership finally came to an end. Stewart finished in last place at yesterday’s ballot, receiving the backing of just 27 MPs, 10 fewer than at the previous round.

Theories abound of what brought about the decline. Stewart was never going to get any of the 30 spare votes available from Dominic Raab’s elimination at the previous round. No doubt, the anti-no-dealer shed votes as a direct result of his poor performance at the BBC debate on Tuesday evening, but it’s hard to escape the feeling votes were initially traded to keep him in the race for a little longer. The purpose is anyone’s guess (see below).

Boris Johnson’s lead has climbed yet further, now nearing half of all Tory MPs on 143. By this evening we’ll know who he’s up against in the final round. Voting will take place over morning and afternoon sessions today in order to whittle down the pack to the final two. The result will be announced at around 6pm. Sajid Javid (38) is set to drop out this morning, leaving Jeremy Hunt (54) and Michael Gove (51) vying for that spot next to Boris.

Hunt is best placed to come out on top. He should pick up Stewart’s pro-Remain votes, Javid’s supporters will most likely scatter themselves evenly. The fearsome Johnson operation is also expected to prop up Hunt up with some surplus votes. It is widely understood Boris fears Gove the most.

With Stewart exiting the stage, Philip Hammond has re-assumed his role as the Tories’ top Remoaner. At a speech in London today, the chancellor will press the remaining candidates on what their “plan B” is if “plan A” – a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement – fails.

“If the new prime minister cannot end the deadlock in parliament, then he will have to explore other democratic mechanisms to break the impasse,” Hammond will say.

A dreadful idea rarely, if ever, becomes a good one. Theresa May’s deal, which Stewart defended so strongly is a case in point. Hammond’s idiotic preference for a second referendum is an even better example, a fact some members of the parliamentary Labour Party seem to appreciate.

Following yesterday’s revelation Jeremy Corbyn will back a “confirmatory ballot” without qualification, 26 backbenchers fired back with a letter demanding their leader “put the national interest first”.

“A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands,” they assert.

“Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left.”

In other news, prominent Tories are demanding a boycott of the BBC for the next leadership debate after it was discovered that two guests invited onto the show to ask questions on behalf of the public were tainted. Abdullah from Bristol has a history of mouthing off about Zionism and Aman Thakar is a former Labour staffer. The BBC has offered a lame explanation about Abdullah’s deactivated Twitter account, although Westmonster have discovered his unacceptable views were known. He has since lost his position as deputy head of a school. No-one at the BBC has paid a penalty.

“Not only biased but incompetent,” was Jacob Rees-Mogg’s response. That sums up a lot more than the BBC.