On this week’s episode, we look at the runners and riders in the Tory leadership race, the latest development in the Trump/Russia brouhaha, and the British(ish) woman who might be about to win Wimbledon.
Speculation has abounded in Westminster about the next Conservative leader, ever since Theresa May’s disastrous election showing last month. As her potential successors start to put feelers out, we are already seeing an attempt to block the route of a certain flaxen-haired former editor of this magazine. The ‘Stop Boris’ campaign is in full swing, says James Forsyth in the magazine this week, and he joins the podcast along with Harry Mount to discuss an increasingly bitter contest. As James writes:
"No one is more plotted against than Boris Johnson. When I asked one well-connected minister who he was backing for leader, he replied, ‘Whoever will stop Boris getting into the final two.’ The Foreign Secretary’s detractors in parliament — there is no shortage of them — are determined to leave nothing to chance. Tory party rules mean the final two candidates must fight a campaign among the members in the country, which would suit Boris’s campaigning style. So they intend to stop him long before it gets to that stage."
Next, it feels like forever since the first rumblings of inappropriate contact between the Trump camp and Russia, but this week we’ve heard perhaps the most substantive noise so far. Donald Trump Jr – the President’s big-game hunting eldest son – has been caught up in a leaked email thread that could tie him to the Putin administration. But is the evidence actually rather thin? Paul Wood considers this in the magazine this week and he joins us along with Freddy Gray. As Paul writes:
"Important questions remain: Was Jr’s meeting with the Russian lawyer the only such encounter with someone believed to represent the Kremlin? If there were more, was information, or other help, ever accepted? Did the President have prior knowledge of this meeting, or of any others? These emails were presumably given to the New York Times by someone in the intelligence community. It seems unlikely this will be the last such leak— there may be yet more ‘worst days’ to come for Trump on Russia."
But Freddy is tired of these Trump/Russia stories:
"But I think the interesting thing about this story is, like all these Trump-Russia stories, the first time you read it, the first time you see it you think 'God, wow, that's serious'. And then after about a day or so, the dust settles and people say 'Well, is it that bad?' Now does this mean we've just become accustomed to the horror of Trump? Or does it mean that actually there really isn't that much of a scandal there?"
And finally: Every summer, Britain becomes momentarily captivated by the green lawns of SW19. And with Andy Murray's shock quarter-final defeat, rising star Johanna Konta has been left to fly the British flag at Wimbledon. So who is she? And, given she’s Australian-born to Hungarian parents, can we really claim her as our own? Simon Barnes writes on national sporting identity in this week’s magazine, and he joins the pod. As he writes:
"It’s a complicated world, full of aeroplanes and people and politics and religions and money and races and nations. The reality of nationality has shifted drastically while ancient ideas of what nationality means live on in pre-articulate forms deep in our collective unconscious. In sport we lunge instinctively towards a simple partisanship: and find the issue more complex with every passing year."