Boris Johnson, frontrunner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, cannot win a general election without broadening his appeal to much of the British public who instinctively distrust him, Conservative polling specialist Robert Hayward has warned.
Boris Johnson is the overwhelming favourite in the Tory race to replace Theresa May. The 11 other candidates are unlikely to curry favour with Conservative Party members once they have been whittled down in votes by Tory MPs.
But Conservative peer and polling expert Robert Hayward warned today that “there is a distinct antipathy towards Boris,” with a recent YouGov poll finding even 23% of those who voted Conservative in 2017 thought Johnson would be a “very bad” Prime Minister for Britain.
Johnson told MPs at Tuesday night’s private hustings for Tory MPs: “We are facing an existential crisis and will not be forgiven if we do not deliver Brexit on 31 October.”
But Hayward explained that Johnson could not win an election without winning the confidence of a growing section of the population that does not want Brexit.
The peer analysed recent political polling and told The Guardian newspaper today that:
“A Tory prime minister or leader can’t win without Brexiteers; but you actually can’t win without the people who don’t strongly identify with one side or the other, and are looking for good government.”
While many were very enthusiastic about Boris Johnson, a large section of the public did not trust him, and he would be unable to win an election without appealing to people who were not Brexit ultras.
Johnson is currently facing a criminal trial for lying during the Brexit campaign.
According to the recent YouGov poll, 28% of the public thought he would make a good prime minister – but a whopping 54% thought BoJo would be a bad PM.
“Gove and Hunt have similar problems; but the voters don’t appear to be so antipathetic, particularly to Hunt, and to some extent to Gove,” explained Hayward.
How does the Conservative Party leader get chosen?
The contenders below will be whittled down to two candidates in a series of votes by the den of vipers that is their fellow Tory MPs. The least popular are ruled out, during a process of bargaining, backstabbing, bullying and barracking until there are just two candidates left standing – who are then put to a vote of Tory Party members.
The Conservative Party membership which has been in a long process of decline, has just recently seen a surge. We can only speculate at the motives of new joiners, but Brexit Party supporters have been boasting on social media about joining.
These are now 11 Tory MPs who would be our next Prime Minister in order of likelihood according to political betting sites:
1 Boris Johnson –
Favourite with the bookies and in polls of Tory members, Boris Johnson failed at his last attempt to get the top job when David Cameron quit balking at the process of delivering a Brexit that lived up to the false promises of the leave campaign – many of them Boris’.
Infamously, penned a column for staying in the EU and one for leaving, before deciding the Leave campaign was more politically expedient.
Despite being Foreign Secretary during the Brexit negotiations, resigned explaining how the deal would make the UK a “diminished” rule-taking “vassal state” to the EU, before supporting it again, now campaigning against it again and seriously touting an actual no deal Brexit as a bargaining position, insisting now that the UK will leave on Halloween “deal or no deal”.
Johnson is infamously so allergic to telling the truth, that he was even busted recently for tweeting that he’d voted in the local elections, then deleted it when someone pointed out there weren’t any in London where the former London Mayor lives.
BoJo is currently facing a criminal trial for lying during the Brexit campaign.
22 Tory MPs have declared their support for Johnson – generally the Brexiteers who rebelled against Theresa May’s deal: Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries, Liz Truss, Grant Shapps, Gavin Williamson, Johnny Mercer, Peter Bone, Simon Clark, Nigel Adams, John Whittingdale, Conor Burns, Andrew Rosindell, David Jones, Sheryll Murray, Jake Berry, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Stuart Andrew, David Tredinnick, Desmond Swayne, Alok Sharma, Kwasi Kwarteng, Zac Goldsmith.
2 Michael Gove –
Just as in the last leadership contest showed early signs of backing his colleague Boris Johnson, before stabbing him in the back again. Brexit campaigner Gove was tainted by the lies of the campaign, but stayed loyal to Theresa may, keeping his cabinet position and voting with the government on the Withdrawal Deal.
Gove acknowledges how damaging leaving the EU without a deal would be, but somehow reckons he could deliver Brexit better than Theresa may could, despite the fact that the EU has repeatedly insisted that the member states will not be renegotiating the withdrawal deal with Britain again.
Gove has clashed with rivals Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom by admitting that delaying Brexit further until late 2020 would be preferable to crashing Britain out of the EU with no deal in October.
25 Tory MPs have publicly backed Gove – Eurosceptics but not the ERG ultras backing Boris Johnson: Nicky Morgan, Mel Stride, Ed Vaizey, Tom Tugendhat, Sir Edward Leigh, Alberta Costa, Bob Neill, Michael Fabricant, Mark Menzies, Luke Graham, George Eustice, Kevin Hollinrake, Bob Seely, Richard Bacon, John Stevenson, Rachel Maclean, Stephen Kerr, John Hayes, Jack Brereton, Guy Opperman, Trudy Harrison, David Duguid, Neil Parish, Bill Grant and Nick Gibb.
3 Andrea Leadsom –
Another troublemaker for Theresa May, the former banker and tax avoidance expert and Brexit cheerleader Andrea Leadsom, has always been a fierce critic of the Brexit deal that was negotiated and resigned over it.
Leadsom insists that the EU withdrawal deal won’t get a majority in parliament, but rather than renegotiate it, as PM she would leave the EU with no deal, however nuts that is, in a “managed exit.”
Leadsom does not appear to appreciate all the consequences of that. Or indeed how citizens’ rights work.
Last time Leadsom made a bid for the top job, her comments about Theresa May’s lack of children appalled her colleagues. So far she has just garnered the support of two Tory colleagues: Chris Heaton-Harris and Heather Wheeler.
4 Jeremy Hunt –
Former Health Secretary, then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was rounded on by his rivals for flip-flopping all over the place.
Despite previously insisting he preferred no deal to no Brexit, Hunt warned that picking a party leader who advocates recklessly leaving the EU without a deal would be political suicide for the Tories. – Not because of the catastrophic damage that would cause the country, mind.
No, rather because a Tory leader advocating a no deal Brexit would be defeated in a vote of no confidence in Parliament, before being defeated in a General Election by Jeremy Corbyn, Hunt warned his party.
Before immediately back-tracking again when wrathful Tory Brextremists reacted.
“We must not go back to the electorate asking for their mandate until we’ve delivered what we promised we would do last time, which is to deliver Brexit,” Hunt told BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme, “it would be absolutely catastrophic for us as a party.”
Hunt has the support of 21 Conservative colleagues, though in polls the Tory membership does not have much confidence in his leadership. The MPs who’ve thrown their hat into the Hunt campaign are: Alan Duncan, Crispin Blunt, Mark Field, Nusrat Ghani, David Morris, Steve Brine, John Penrose, Philip Dunne, Patrick McLoughlin, Richard Graham, Alan Mak, James Cartlidge, Nick Herbert, Mark Garnier, Roger Gale, Mark Prisk, Oliver Heald, John Lamont, Will Quince, Vicky Ford and Harriett Baldwin.
5 Dominic Raab –
The former Brexit Secretary helped negotiate the Brexit deal, resigned in protest against his own deal, voted against it as it was a disaster, voted for it, voted against it again – doing his best to scupper the PM’s proposal to get the Brexit deal through parliament.
Raab has spoken out against human rights, scoffed at the sharp rise in food bank use under his government and called British workers “among the worst idlers in the world,” but I’m sure our rights would be secure if Brexit hardliner Raab steered Britain out of the EU… He was also a member of a Facebook group dedicated to privatising the NHS.
Raab is also a great fan of tax cuts for the richest and austerity, boasting that “grey welfare” should not be immune.
Bizzarely Raab thinks he can renegotiate a better Brexit deal than the one that um… he negotiated.
Though he didn’t inspire the most confidence as Brexit Secretary when he appeared baffled by the fact the UK relies on Dover’s channel crossing at Dover.
Raab has vowed that if he becomes PM, there would be a “zero-tolerance” approach to any cabinet members expressing any doubts over the wisdom of a no deal Brexit.
20 Tory MPs have publicly backed Raab’s bid, including David Davis who has called for Theresa May to publish her preparations for a no deal Brexit.
The other Brexit ultras behind Raab are: Suella Braverman, Maria Miller, Andrea Jenkyns, Nadhim Zahawi, Helen Grant, Maria Caulfield, Tom Pursglove, Chris Green, Robert Syms, Eddie Hughes, Shailesh Vara, Hugo Swire, Anne-Marie Morris, Gareth Johnson, Henry Bellingham, Robert Courts, Rehman Chishti, John Baron and Michael Tomlinson.
6 Rory Stewart –
Appears to be more honest than the vast majority of his wannabe PM colleagues about the devastation leaving the EU with no deal and soley relying on WTO trade terms would cause the country.
As the more reckless Tory leadership candidates are vying to appear to back a no deal Brexit as an actual possibility for the country in order to try to distance themselves from the deal their government negotiated with the EU, Rory Stewart has spelled out just how deluded or dishonest his colleagues are.
“WTO terms, by definition are the worst possible trading terms in the world. It’s the terms that Afghanistan has been trading on,” admitted International Development Minister Rory Stewart.
He also rounded on his fellow wannabe Tory leaders who blithely pretend leaving the EU with no trade deals negotiated is somehow “believing in Britain,” when it actually means attempting to renegotiate all Britain’s trade deals from a position of severe weakness. And probably ending up back where are now after years of negotiations.
And when asked about his ERG Brexiteer colleagues who argue prices would come down with zero tariffs with the rest of the world, he explained how that that would be because British farming and industry would be wiped out as the UK would be flooded with foreign produce while facing greater obstacles than ever exporting to our current trading partners.
Stewart also – unlike most of his rivals – acknowledged the Irish border is a central problem for the sort of Brexit they advocate.
Rory Stewart’s campaign appears to involve attempting to be a man of the people by posting creepy man in the street videos of himself. Sometimes with ordinary people.
Stewart is keen to appeal to the younger voters that have abandoned his party and acknowledges the “climate emergency.”
The son of a spy chief and tutor to Princes William and Henry has the support of just four Conservative colleagues, and has won over very few Conservative Party members in polls. Ken Clarke, David Gauke, Victoria Prentis and Nicholas Soames have expressed support so far.
7 Sajid Javid –
The ambitious Home Secretary is determined to appear tough, whether using coastguard patrols looking for refugees in dinghies as photo-opportunities – leading to accusations of “scaremongering” , or insisting all of a sudden that a no deal Brexit won’t affect the UK’s “capacity to protect itself.”
Currently Sajid Javid is insisting on preparing for a no deal Brexit, a prospect which strikes terror into his beleagured, ill-prepared short-staffed staff.
As he insists on joining his leadership rivals’ calls for cuts to the highest tax brackets, they are unlikely to receive more funds any time soon.
Perhaps why Javid has distanced himself from Theresa May, abandoning her repeated failed vow to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands.
Despite the EU member states insisting that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be renegotiated, especially the Irish Backstop which protects peace in Northern and the Republic of Ireland, Sajid Javid reckons he knows better.
Javid’s Tory colleague Baroness Warsi is among those who have criticized his dog-whistle politics. She warned the Tory right would always find him “too Muslim to be leader” however reactionary he behaves: “however much he dog-whistles, however much he panders to the right of our party, sadly the right of our party still believe he’s far too Muslim to be leader of the party,” the former Conservative Party chair insisted.
Mims Davies, Robin Walker, Chris Skidmore, David Evenett, Rob Halfon, Chris Philp, John Glen, Mike Wood, Simon Hoare, Lucy Allan, Kevin Foster, Andrew Selous, Ed Argar and Mary Robinson are the 14 Tory MPs publicly backing Javid, though he lacks backing among party members.
8 Matthew Hancock –
The Health Secretary is an unlikely contender for the top job, but the longer the contest goes on, and the more the others open their mouths, the more he seems normal by comparison.
While ruling out a second referendum on our membership of the EU, Hancock injected a bit of controversial reality into the Tory leadership race this week by explaining:
“The brutal reality is, no deal is not a policy choice available to the next Prime Minister.”
His attempts to woo younger supporters on Instagram might not work with teh Conservative Party as he was backed by just 1% of Conservative Party members in a recent poll.
Hancock has the backing of 11 MPs: Damian Green, Stephen Hammond, Caroline Spelman, Bim Afolami, Paul Masterton, Tracey Crouch, Maggie Throup, Seema Kennedy, Jonathan Djanogly, Caroline Dinenage and Andrew Bowie.
9 Esther McVey –
Not entirely versed with reality, McVey has been not only associated with the worst excesses of Tory welfare policies at the DWP, but with lying to MPs about the suffering and costs of those policies. More than once.
She recently tweeted an old, debunked myth that all EU countries would be forced to join the Euro and resigned tearfully in protest against the EU withdrawal deal her government concluded.
A Brexit ultra, McVey scoffed at Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that pursuing a no deal Brexit would be “political suicide” for their party. She has been trying to outdo Boris Johnson in repeating the mantra in interviews that Britain will be leaving the EU at the end of October with or without a deal in place.
She even insisted that “an invisible border” would be ready between Northern and the Republic of Ireland by October 31 in preparation for a no deal Brexit. – Very comforting for everyone who lives on either side of the Irish border.
The Brexiteer former TV presenter has rebranded herself as “Blue-collar Conservatism.” Six of her colleagues are supporting her campaign at present: Ben Bradley, Gary Streeter, Pauline Latham, Phillip Davies, Andrew Lewer and Scott Mann.
10 Mark Harper –
A former Remainer, Mark Harper insists that he is different from the other candidates that bear responsibility for the current Brexit shambles as they were all part of Theresa May’s government.
Harper insists that his leadership rivals are not being “realistic” with the people and that the Brexit deadline should be delayed to give Britain a proper chance to find a solution. Though he does not rule out leaving the EU with no deal if MPs vote for that.
Mark Harper is one of the least well-known candidates. He will always be associated with defending the controversial “Go Home Vans” – one of the most notorious aspects of his government’s “hostile environment” – as Immigration Minister.
Harper was also Minister for Disabled People in 2014 as the scandal of the suffering switching to Personal Independence Payments and the dysfunctional Work Capability Assessments emerged while the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that his department had failed to deliver promised savings.
So far, Mark Harper’s candidacy has the backing of four MPs: William Wragg, Luke Hall, Jackie Doyle-Price and Steve Double.
11 Sam Gyimah –
Sam Gyimah has vowed to “break the Brexit deadlock” and is the only candidate suggesting the public have the final say.
The former Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation has called for an innovative solution to parliament’s Brexit impasse, condemning the other contenders for having a “very narrow” set of views on Brexit.
Gyimah insists his party should start being “pragmatic and put the country first.”
Launching his candidacy, Gyimah told Sky News: “What most of the candidates are offering is to offer no deal and a fudge on Theresa May’s deal which has been heavily defeated. Parliament is deadlocked – we all know that – and we want to move forward and we want to be able to bring the country together, so that is why I think a final say on the Brexit deal is the way to achieve that.”
The former Goldman Sachs investment banker who has been the MP for East Surrey since 2010 is perhaps the least known of the Tory leadership contenders, but his plan is perhaps the likeliest to receive a majority of votes in the House of Commons, where on all sides of the House there is little relish for the economic self-destruction of leaving the EU without a deal.
Launching his campaign he explained: “My plan will be a new referendum with a new set of questions – to bring us together and solve the impasse. Step 1. Leave vs Remain. Step 2. Deal vs No Deal. Parliament will debate the approach in detail. This is a credible way to resolve the stark choice we face.”
Gyimah has been a vocal critic of the EU Withdrawal Deal, describing it as “a deal in name only” with many unresolved issues that would leave the UK at the mercy of the European Union with no leverage for many years to come. He was the seventh government minister to resign over Theresa May’s deal, which he called naive, saying “Britain will end up worse off, transformed from rule makers into rule takers. It is a democratic deficit and a loss of sovereignty”.
The only leadership candidate to back the public having the final say on Brexit, Gyimah said in a public referendum he would actively campaign to remain in the EU. All of which means he is likely to have very little support among Conservative Party members, or much public support from Tory MPs.