By GRAHAME ANDERSON
Theresa May has resigned as Conservative Party leader triggering what will be a fascinating election process involving at least 11 candidates. Once her successor is announced in the week beginning 22nd of July, her reign as Prime Minister will come to an end, at the start of the summer recess. It could also pave the way for an early General Election if Labour can succeed in winning a likely vote of no confidence motion in the government.
Vying for the Top Job
Is it possible current Home Secretary Sajid Javid could become the first British Prime Minister from a Muslim background? Perhaps many people will see former foreign Secretary Boris Johnson strike a blow for the younger vote? Or will Andrea Leadsom win more Tory hearts and minds with her measured calmness and call for a managed Brexit in place of Theresa May’s deal?
Ian Lavery MP, Labour Party Chair, commenting on Andrea Leadsom’s recent resignation from the Cabinet, said: “The Prime Minister’s authority is shot, and her time is up.
“While the Tories are ripping themselves apart, our country is in crisis. The government has made a catastrophic mess of the Brexit negotiations, our steel industry is under threat and universal credit is pushing people into poverty. For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election.”
It seems more than likely Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the government at the earliest opportunity. Despite this there was no shortage of Conservative MP’s ready to throw their hat into the ring, including Andrea Leadsom who was head to head with Mrs May of course until dropping out of the 2017 leadership contest.
Asian Sunday has learned Esther Mcvey, Rory Stewart and Sam Giymah are all struggling to win votes at this stage.
We can also reveal, because of the high number of candidates, the 1922 committee has changed the rules, so any MP who wants to stand has to be backed by eight other colleagues. Thresholds have also been introduced regarding the number of votes required from MP’s to reach the next round of the leadership contest.
MPs will vote in a series of rounds to whittle down the candidates. In each round, the person with the fewest votes is removed. Nominations close on the 10th of June with the first ballot scheduled for the next day. Members can cast their final vote between two remaining candidates – week beginning 22nd July.
Road to Nowhere
Having lost their overall majority in the House of Commons, infighting emerged over the Brexit negotiations before members of the Eurosceptic European Research Group began pushing for a vote of no confidence in May. This was defeated in December 2018, and of course early this year Parliament repeatedly voted against the PM’s proposed deal, leading to her announcement of her pending resignation.
This particular leadership election will provide an opportunity for those with long term Prime Ministerial ambitions, and those looking to simply secure a place in any future cabinet.
Father of The House Ken Clarke told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he thinks there are too many candidates running to be the next Prime Minister.
He added: “It is all a shambles, and is in danger of becoming a rather tragic farce unless some order is brought into it. There is nothing I can do about that; the 1922 Committee perhaps should have tightened up the rules before we started.”
Both Kit Malthouse and James Cleverly earlier dropped out of the contest being realistic about their chances. So, who does that leave?
A Brief Look at The Candidates
The former Foreign Secretary and MP for Oxbridge and South Ruislip announced his leadership push in a video posted on twitter. The often controversial, figure has said he would both cut taxes and increase spending on schools. Favourite with the bookies, popular with the membership, and also recently supported by a certain Donald Trump, would he make a favourable Prime Minister?
Former secretary of State and MP for Tatton, Esther Mcvey, hopes to continue the now Conservative trend for female leaders and Prime Ministers. McVey is a diehard Brexiteer and favourite with much of the Tory membership, decreeing she’d be quite willing to take us out of the E.U. In october without a deal if necessary.
MP for East Surrey and former Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, could also appeal to the younger Tory members. He wanted to ‘broaden the race’, and is another with no fear of impementing a no-deal Brexit.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and MP for Surrey Heath, is well known to the membership, but sadly not popular with many of them. Regarded by some at Westminster as a trusted pair of hands when implementing policy – even praised by the opposition, his treatment of Boris Johnson in the previous contest could come back to haunt him this time.
He had little luck as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union claiming he was constantly undermined. Now, the MP for Esher and Walton is looking to be the fresh face of the Conservative Party. He already has the backing of 40 other Conservative MP’s, and could be the dark horse of the contest.
Recently appointed International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart has clearly confirmed he wants to be the next Prime Minister. Deeply Intelligent and visionary, he previously served in the army, tutoring both Prince William and Harry. A hard working MP for Penrith and the Border. Ken Clarke is a big fan.
Mark Harper has sat on the Commons Administration Committee and briefly on the Work and Pensions Committee. MP for the Forest of Dean, former Chief Whip and and Minister for Disabled People under former Prime Minister David Cameron, he has consistently voted in support of British military intervention. It’d be a big surprise to see him win the leadership contest.
The MP for South Northamptonshire and former Leader of The House has great experience in a leadership contest. She’s very popular with members, calm and methodical in outlook. She’s called for Britain to abandon Theresa May’s Brexit deal and prepare for a “managed exit” from the EU at the end of October. Could go close to winning.
No gaffes as Foreign Secretary – six years in the Health Secretary hotseat combined with more cabinet experience than his rivals must make him a leading contender. An easy, calm style in getting things done he said recently, as prime minister he would seek a new deal with the European Union. Mr Hunt is MP for South West Surrey.
This son of a Pakistani bus driver born in Rochdale and MP for Bromsgrove isn’t afraid to make tough decisions. He claims he can unite the Tory party utilising free market Toryism, and by enhancing diversity with a modernising approach. The fact he’s an EU remainer however, may go against him – but a live contender.
The MP for West Suffolk and Health Secretary entered the contest by pledging a £3 billion spending spree on state primary and secondary schools in England across the next five years. Could hold a strong hand,
Whatever the outcome, it seems highly likely a general election could follow in the autumn if not spring of 2020, whoever is elected leader.