George Osborne has ruled himself out of the Tory party leadership contest. The Chancellor said that whilst he accepted the outcome of the referendum, ‘I am not the person to provide the unity my party needs at this time’. Osborne went on to say that:
‘As for my ow future, I will not be a candidate in the Conservative leadership election to come’
Osborne’s decision is hardly a surprise. He had become the face of a ‘Remain’ campaign which angered many Tory MPs. In particular, his ‘punishment Brexit budget’ – which he suggested would be implemented in the event of a vote for ‘Out’ – had a large group within his party furious at what they saw as an attempt to scare voters into sticking with the status quo. Clearly that strategy failed – and in a speech yesterday, Osborne dropped any mention of an immediate budget coming into force. But Conservative MPs riled by ‘Project Fear’ won’t have forgotten and are unlikely to have forgiven Osborne so easily. So the Chancellor’s decision not to throw his hat into the ring seems like a wise move, particularly given his stated reason that he isn’t the one to offer ‘unity’ within his party.
But whilst Osborne’s decision not to run in the Tory leadership race when nominations open tomorrow was the takeaway point from his piece in today’s Times, what else did he have to say? It’s clear that he envisages remaining as Chancellor, whoever the new leader may be. In the article, he says:
‘Instead, as chancellor, I will be 100 per cent focused on providing the economic stability and reassurance Britain needs.