To my gambling friends a warning, despite the cajoling of Lord Parkinson and the Yorkshire Post, Hague is adamant he is not running. So punters might want to get on to Betfair and lay him. He was categorically clear yesterday “I certainly will not be standing for the leadership, however many people ask me to do so”. Hague also hinted that Osborne should not run. The Guardian reckons Hague turned down Howard’s offer of the Shadow Chancellorship.
Letwin has confirmed he is out, “I am not going to contest this time. I think one has to know one’s limits.” Quite.
A new (untested) source tells me that some of the modernisers met up earlier this week to try to agree on a candidate – apparently without succeeding. To Guido the race looks like one of Tim Yeo, Andrew Lansley or Alan Duncan being the real moderniser candidate against David Davis, Doc Fox and Rifkind. Since everyone is claiming a ‘modernising’ agenda the terminology is becoming redundant. Yeo is too left-wing for the right, Lansley is nice enough, but a bit like Major in some ways. Alan Duncan would be an interesting candidate – it would certainly test the modernisers’ thesis to the limit. The bookies choice, David Davis, seems a shoo-in, but the Tory party never selects the favourite.
Its hard to say what some of the candidates are going to offer to differentiate themselves – certainly not popular profiles – maybe the Tories just need a likeable leader (with hair) for a change?
UPDATE: Tebbit to ITV on Rifkind “I don’t think a Scottish lawyer would win an enormous amount of seats in England. We’ve forgotten that we have a majority of votes in England – we’ve polled more votes in England than Labour. Now we have got a problem, but it is not one which I think the Scottish lawyer would be the natural to resolve.”
“This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” he told the PM, concluding: “I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election… I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit…”