Isabel Hardman

Senior Tories push for longer leadership contest

Senior Tories push for longer leadership contest
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The Tory leadership contest is looking decidedly sedate compared with the ructions in the Labour party this morning. But tomorrow the 1922 Committee Executive will meet to discuss the timetable and rules for the battle to replace David Cameron as Tory leader and Prime Minister.

As I report in the Observer today, senior Tories are concerned that the timetable that Cameron sketched out in his resignation statement on Friday morning is actually rather tight, and are pushing for the contest to take longer. Liam Fox echoed this on the Sunday Politics, telling Andrew Neil that he favoured the contest going on until November.

Now, there are a number of good reasons for a longer timetable, not least that the contest won’t then be conducted over the summer when many Tory members are away, and that everyone has enough time to reel from the resignation of their party leader, take stock of where thing are now, and make a measured decision about who should be leader. Remember that many Labour MPs attribute the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader to the stage of bereavement that many Labour members had reached after their party’s general election defeat. But there are other reasons certain Tories, including Fox, might be quite keen for a longer timetable. A short contest favours the frontrunner, and that frontrunner is Boris Johnson. If you’re not a fan of Boris Johnson, then you might reasonably want a little more time for the Stop Boris candidate - currently Theresa May - or other less well-known MPs to be able to establish themselves with the party membership.

Given the Stop Boris operation is already pretty well-organised, the campaign for a longer timetable will have a good amount of support.