The CON race is not now about who wins but whether the next PM and leader gets properly tested and scrutinised

June 18th, 2019

With Hunt as his postal ballot opponent he’d have a much softer ride than facing Stewart

The recent history of PMs getting the job in a non-contested elections is not a good one. Gordon Brown got his coronation in June 2007 and avoided the probing that would possibly have highlighted his many vulnerabilities. The same happened in July 2016 with TMay.

Both of them,  I’d  argue, would have been better PMs and better general election campaigners if they had had the experience of facing tough contested elections with their party’s members in order to get the job.

That Johnson’s minders feel it is best to keep him away from serious scrutiny hardly gives confidence in his ability to negotiate the most critical issue facing the nation in decades – Brexit. 

From what we saw on Sunday night in the Channel 4 debate and so far during the campaign suggests that Rory Stewart could play a hugely significant role in testing Boris should he make it to the final postal ballot. A programme of hustings and TV debates is planned and the member for Uxbridge would surely prefer to be facing Hunt than his fellow Etonian who has been the surprise of this campaign.

No doubt this is what will be occupying the minds of some Tory MPs this morning as they look towards the second ballot. The result should be known by 6pm.

Mike Smithson