James Forsyth

Senior Tories plotting to bring a quick end to the leadership contest

Senior Tories plotting to bring a quick end to the leadership contest
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Officially, we will not have a new leader of the Tory party—and thus a new Prime Minister—until the 9

th

of September. But there are plans afoot to install a new PM far quicker than that, as I say in The Sun this morning.

This scheme would see huge pressure put on whoever is second at the end of the parliamentary rounds to pull out before the election moves to the members’ ballot. This would mean that the leading candidate, most likely to be Theresa May, would have won and could move to Number 10 immediately.

There is a view that it would be easier for a Remainer to drop out, than an Outer: if there was an Outer on the ballot, the membership would be more likely to want a say. One Tory MP who wants Theresa May to be PM tells me he is considering voting tactically to ensure that the Remainer Stephen Crabb is the other name on the ballot to ensure a speedy transition. If Crabb came second, ‘He might have no choice but to drop out’ says one senior Tory backbencher.

The other way we could see a coronation is if May were to win so overwhelmingly on the first ballot—with say 200 plus votes—that there was then irresistible pressure on the other candidates to withdraw.

But there is a danger of a sense of illegitimacy about the result if it is the product of a parliamentary deal that prevents the members from having a say.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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