Tory leadership contest 2016

And then there was one… Theresa May’s team prepare for government

Chris Grayling has given this very brief statement on behalf of Theresa May in the past few minutes: ‘Can I start by thanking on behalf of Theresa May and on behalf of everyone involved in Theresa’s campaign team by thanking and paying a warm tribute to Andrea Leadsom. Her actions this morning have shown what a principled and decent politician she is and how willing she is to put the interests of the country before her own. She is a true public servant. Theresa is currently on her way back to London from Birmingham and she will make a statement later today. But on her behalf I’d just like to

Why Andrea Leadsom may still benefit from her naive comments about motherhood

One of the rules of modern leadership contests is that at some point there is an almighty row about whether one of the candidates is just better than the other because she happens to have had children of her own. Labour reached that stage on 6 July 2015 when Helen Goodman wrote a piece saying she was supporting Yvette Cooper because she was a mother, which the Liz Kendall camp took exception to. The Tories reached it almost exactly a year later when Andrea Leadsom gave an interview to the Times in which she said she had a ‘real stake in the future of our country’ because she has children.

Why the Tories should send May and Gove to the country

As a radical paper, The Spectator has always been an admirer of Michael Gove, particularly his education reforms. He was, perhaps, a little too radical when abandoning Boris Johnson at the eleventh hour last week – but let it not be said that he lacks the steel needed to become Prime Minister. Andrea Leadsom was impressive during the referendum campaign and might be a triumph as Prime Minister. But there is only one battle-tested Brexiteer in this contest – and he is Michael Gove. Tory MPs will today choose which two candidates they will ask the membership to choose between. The glitch in the voting system means they get to choose

Theresa May love bombs Tory MPs

The final parliamentary hustings of the Tory leadership contest has now taken place. With Theresa May assured of a place in the final two, the real interest was in whether Andrea Leadsom or Michael Gove could extract more from the occasion. Leadsom was first up, and I understand gave a better performance than she had on Monday night. She joked at the end of her speech, ‘I’m a quick learner—note I didn’t use the expression baby’s brains once’. But concerns were raised by her saying that she wouldn’t publish her tax return now but would let Tory MPs come and look at it if they wanted to.  Her answer that

As Crabb drops out, can Gove pass Leadsom?

Theresa May is, without a doubt, going to the membership round—and with the support of vastly more MPs than her opponent. In the first round, she won the support of 165 MPs—exactly half the eligible electorate. The question now is who will be her opponent? Andrea Leadsom finished second with 66 votes, Michael Gove was third on 48, Stephen Crabb got 34 and Liam Fox was eliminated after receiving 16 votes. Crabb has chosen to drop out of the race of his own accord after finishing fourth. If Gove is to overtake Leadsom, he is going to have to pick up a lot of votes from the Crabb pool. The

Ross Clark

Speed is of the essence in the Tory leadership contest

The Conservative party’s electoral system won an unlikely compliment this afternoon from Labour MP Ian Austin, who declared that it showed how a ‘serious party’ operated. It might look serious compared with the fiasco of Labour’s leadership crisis, but does the election of a new Prime Minister really have to be dragged out over two months, and at a time when the country is crying out for someone to take leadership over Brexit? It is bizarre that 100,000 Conservative party members are deemed to require twice as long to make up their minds as 46 million UK voters have to decide in a general election campaign. Until 2001 the Conservative

Isabel Hardman

May comes top in first round of Tory leadership voting, Fox eliminated

Graham Brady has announced the results of the first round of the Tory leadership contest as follows: Stephen Crabb 34, Liam Fox 16, Michael Gove 48, Andrea Leadsom 66, Theresa May 165. So as expected, Theresa May is out on top by a considerable margin, but what is striking is how close Michael Gove has come to Andrea Leadsom, given the rather visceral reaction in the Tory party to the way he treated Boris Johnson last week. Perhaps some of Leadsom’s support drifted away after last night’s hustings which even her supporters acknowledge did not go particularly well. There may now be pressure on Stephen Crabb to drop out after a not-particularly-good

The question for Stephen Crabb, can you go toe to toe with Vladimir Putin?

The Tory leadership hopefuls all appeared before a packed out 1922 hustings tonight. First up was Michael Gove. His pitch was that he had the conviction, the experience and the vision to lead the party and the country. He argued that the Tories’ aim should be to help those on £24,000 a year. Surprisingly, Gove wasn’t asked any questions about what had happened between him and Boris Johnson last week. However, he was asked twice about his former adviser Dominic Cummings. Gove said that Cummings would have no formal role in his Number 10. Gove was typically fluent, answering nine questions in the fifteen minutes allotted to him. He was

Michael Gove’s leadership pitch: the brutal man of principle

Every candidate comes into a leadership contest needing to answer questions about their flaws and experience. But the questions that Michael Gove is having to answer about his own bid are of altogether a different order. The Justice Secretary spent the first chunk of his interview with Andrew Marr this morning having to explain not just why he decided to chuck Boris Johnson, but also why he did it in such a brutal way. “You are our Frank Underwood” Andrew to @Gove2016 @HouseofCards #marr— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) July 3, 2016 Marr repeatedly pressed him, not so much for his reasons for turning on the Mayor, but for an

Andrea Leadsom overtakes Michael Gove to become second favourite in Tory leadership race

As Michael Gove finished speaking, the bookmakers have reported that Andrea Leadsom has overtaken the Justice Secretary when it comes to betting on who will be the next Tory leader. Theresa May remains the favourite at 1/3, with Leadsom at 7/2 and Gove at 12/1. Now of course the bookies are not clairvoyants and can get elections—and referendums—very wrong indeed. But these odds reflect the mood in the Tory party, which is currently registering a sense of disbelief that Michael Gove could do something like this. Many senior figures believe that the way he has turned on Boris Johnson is beyond the pale, and are preparing to back Andrea Leadsom,

Isabel Hardman

Tory party braced for deep divisions during leadership contest

The Tory party is waking up this morning reeling from one of its most dramatic days since, well, last week, when the Prime Minister announced he was resigning. MPs from across the party are amazed at what they largely see as not just an act of treachery from Michael Gove but also a breach of how politicians generally behave towards their friends and their party, which is generally with loyalty. Many of them wonder how on earth the Justice Secretary can really reunite the Conservative party at the end of a bitter referendum battle when he has just injected a great deal of bitterness into the leadership contest. Meanwhile, those

Isabel Hardman

The big question that Michael Gove still has to answer

Michael Gove had two clear aims in his leadership campaign launch speech. The first was to explain what the hell he’d just done, which he did using emotive language and a trembling voice. Sounding almost like a Shakespearean hero struggling with destiny, the Justice Secretary insisted that he had ‘never thought I’d be in this position’ and that ‘I did not want it, indeed I did almost everything not to be a candidate for the leadership of this party’. He then told the audience that he lacks charisma, which is indeed something that those who are Gove sceptics are worried about when it comes to persuading the country to vote

Exclusive: Team Gove explains why he dropped Boris

Michael Gove’s newly-formed campaign team have been ringing around shocked Tory MPs in the past couple of hours to explain why the Justice Secretary pulled out of running Boris Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign to launch his own bid, I understand. Dominic Raab, who had also been signed up to the Boris campaign, has been telling colleagues that Boris had proved to be flaky, and that he had not been offering key jobs to figures such as Andrea Leadsom when he had been supposed to – hence Leadsom’s own declaration this morning. They were also disappointed with the quality of people around Boris – a comment that has infuriated other Tory

Isabel Hardman

Chaos and fury in Team Boris as support bleeds to Gove

Boris Johnson is about to go ahead with his leadership campaign launch without the man who has pulled so much of it together. MPs entering the event are baffled by this morning’s shock announcement by Michael Gove that he will run for leader himself: he was the man who invited them. Others, such as Dominic Raab, have already announced they have switched to the Gove campaign. Funnily enough, behind the scenes there is utter fury in the Boris camp. One prominent supporter points out that the Justice Secretary repeatedly insisted that he didn’t want the top job. ‘How can anyone believe a word Gove says on anything ever again?’ they

Three questions Stephen Crabb will have to address in his leadership campaign

Stephen Crabb is the first Tory leadership contender to formally declare his candidacy for the job, with a rousing speech about his working class Conservative values this morning. The Work and Pensions Secretary pitched himself as the candidate who not only understands the people who ‘are really struggling, who look at us all in Westminster and […] see nothing to believe’, but who also understands how to hold the Union together – both of which are rather big claims. He used his now-famous (in Westminster, anyway) backstory as someone born in Scotland and brought up in Wales in a working class household to argue that he was uniquely placed to

Tory leadership contest: the state of the race

Westminster is at its fastest-moving and most unstable for years. Portcullis House and the tea rooms are buzzing with MPs discussing the demise of their leader and who they’ll back in the contest to replace him: and that goes for both main parties, though of course the golden rule of politics still applies, which is that no matter how colossal the Tory mess is, Labour’s will always be gargantuan in comparison. Today the Conservatives decided to move back the date by which their leader must be confirmed to 9 September, which will come as a relief to those Tories who were grumbling about being hauled back from the Mediterranean a

Jo Johnson backs Boris

Jo Johnson has declared his support for his brother’s leadership bid. In a statement to The Spectator, the minister for universities and science says: ‘Boris and I were on different side of a hard fought referendum campaign. But it is time to move on, time to unite and time to deliver. I have known my brother for longer than anyone in parliament. He is the great communicator—and I have no doubt at all that he is the person best placed not just to secure a new settlement for Britain in Europe but also to provide the optimistic, confident and outward-looking leadership we will need in months and years to come.’

Isabel Hardman

New Tory leader in place by 2 September

Senior Tories have decided that their new party leader will be confirmed by 2 September, which means that the timetable for the leadership contest will be very short indeed. The decision was taken for a short, sharp battle so that there was as little uncertainty about the government as possible. This means that nominations for the race will close at noon on Thursday, which gives the candidates very little time to get their bids together. Votes will take place every Tuesday and Thursday until the party produces the two candidates that will be taken to the party membership, which means that Conservatives will be voting on who their new Prime Minister is