Steve Baker Sets Out Tory Leadership Shortlist

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has renewed his call for MPs to submit letters of no confidence in the PM, telling Today that Conservative MPs need to realise that we “cannot go staggering forward any longer like this” and that it is Theresa May’s “duty now to go”. More letters have reportedly gone in since yesterday’s debacle but somehow they’re always around “5 letters short” of 48…

When pressed on who should replace her, Baker gave a shortlist of four Brexiteers – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – and called on them to decide between themselves who would be the chosen candidate. Good luck with that…

“There are four people who have resigned from the Cabinet – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – the four of them need to work out between them which one of them is going to be our candidate to unite the country, unite the party, and take us out of the EU successfully.”

Boris is certainly back in the frame after his weighty appearance setting out a clear plan for how to proceed on Marr on Sunday, while Tory MPs are the one constituency he has consistently struggled to win over, his enduring popularity with Tory members and the country as a whole is not something MPs can ignore. Raab is Boris’s most likely challenger – he has burnished his credentials with his principled resignation although he does not have the public recognition factor of Boris or DD. DD has been out of the spotlight of late, while McVey’s support may end up being crucial to one of the other candidates if she does not go for leader herself.

Baker is right that Brexiteers should unite around a candidate when the inevitable leadership contest comes – Remainer Cabinet ministers including Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt are also on manoeuvres and the risk is real that Brexiteer infighting could lead to a repeat of the situation where a Remainer PM simply wins the race by default. Whether politicians are willing to put their egos to one side and back one of their main rivals is another matter…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Boris: Do Not Underestimate the Deep Sense of Personal Responsibility I Feel for Brexit

Punchy stuff…

Boris: Britain Must Bin The Backstop

Boris’s Leadership Guarantee

“Can you give me an absolute categorical promise here and now that you will not stand against Theresa May?”

“I will give you an absolute categorical promise that I will continue to advocate what I think is the most sensible plan to get out of this mess.”

Boris’s Big Brexit Pitch

Boris Johnson has given a very lengthy interview to ConservativeHome this morning, setting out what looks suspiciously like an alternative manifesto for leadership after May loses the meaningful vote next week. While he insists that May needn’t resign, he sets out a clear alternative path for the country to follow:

  • May must throw out the Withdrawal Agreement, even if she only loses by one vote
  • Boris adds that it would be a “very, very serious mistake” if the Government contrived to pull the meaningful vote now
  • He won’t comment on whether he’s sent in a letter of no confidence himself
  • The UK must go back to Brussels and renegotiate in a “generous, optimistic energetic way” that goes back to the Lancaster House Principles
  • Reinstate a “big free trade agreement at the heart” of the deal, using the implementation period to negotiate it
  • Ditch the backstop – Boris says the Cabinet was “misled” by May and Gavin Barwell over the backstop and sold the December deal in “total bad faith”, adding that the UK has “collaborated in our own incarceration” by helping to “co-forge” the manacles of the backstop
  • Not hand over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money in advance of the final deal
  • Boris rejects the EEA option, saying Norway plus the backstop is “worse” than the deal
  • Proponents of ‘Norway to Canada’ “don’t really want to go forward to the Canada solution”
  • Being prepared to leave on WTO terms is “absolutely crucial” – Boris won’t “pretend there would be no challenges at all. But what people I think want to see is a bit of gumption from this country… and a bit of leadership”
  • He calls the Government’s failure to prepare to come out on WTO terms is an “S&M approach to Government. What perversion is it where you want to be locked up in chains?”

Whether or not you believe that Boris’s approach is any better, the fact is that May’s approach to the negotiations simply has not delivered. May cannot just carry on like it’s business as usual if she loses the vote next week, whatever her margin of defeat…

The Boris Paradox: Hated by the Elite, Loved by Voters

Boris has again topped the ConservativeHome reader survey, taking 1 in 4 votes (24.25%). Sajid Javid (11.6%), Dominic Raab (11%) and David Davis (10.5%) trail far behind. All the other hopefuls are also rans, not even making it into double figures. The ConservativeHome survey is of course not a representative weighted survey of members, it has however in the past been reasonably accurate and there is little doubt that with more than double the support of anyone else Boris is the clear front runner. Except with Tory MPs, who if May should fall next week would in all likelihood prefer a boring, steady-as-she-goes leader. That didn’t work out so well last time…

Boris is detested by his former colleagues in the political media. The overwhelmingly remain-backing political class will never forgive him for leading the Leave campaign to success. The broadsheets traduce him every day. The political editors of the tabloids look for any excuse to give him a kicking. Yet only last month he was once again found to be the most popular leading politician in England

So that is the paradox of Boris; loved by the Tory membership, detested by Tory MPs, popular in the country despite the daily drubbing in the national media. Proven to be able to win votes against the odds in London (twice) and during the referendum. His appeal to voters is strong, and rational Tory MPs who want to beat off the threat from Corbyn will need to focus on who can win votes. Keeping Corbyn out of Downing Street is in the national interest, Boris is the most likely person to do that…

Boris Johnson’s Speech to the DUP

Boris: Backstop “Makes A Complete Nonsense of Brexit”

Brexit big beats are hitting out against the Northern Irish backstop. Boris’ intervention comes as the number of Tory MPs committed to voting against the withdrawal agreement reaches 88. That’s more than half of backbench Tory MPs…

With or Without Water Cannon, Boris Brought Down Crime, Unlike Sadiq

Much has been made of Sadiq’s sale of Boris’ water cannon today. It’s easy to forget that the three cannon were purchased at a time when there were great fears of civil unrest in the wake of the London riots. Guido understands that Cameron had privately agreed he’d licence them if there was another riot. However, Theresa May blocked it politically, asking for copious safety assurances, which were met by the Mayor’s Office and the Met but then ignored by the Home Secretary.

A source close to Boris told Guido “Boris made tackling crime his top priority when he came into office… he reduced the murder rate by 50% and brought overall crime down by 20%. This is a legacy the new mayor has sadly been unable to match.”

It looks to Guido as if Boris’ overall approach worked…

Boris is Still UK’s Most Popular Politician

Boris Johnson tops out YouGov’s list of politicians by popularity, with a positive rating of 32%, when you look at the net approval ratings Boris is 3 points ahead of Theresa. The other Tory frontrunners to replace May, David Davis and Sajid Javid come in at 18th and 33rd respectively. Despite the unforgiving treatment in the remainstream media Boris still has better net approval ratings than both May and Corbyn…

More people have heard of Jacob Rees-Mogg (72%) than Ruth Davidson (62%), however the people who have the highest recognition ratings are Boris, May and Corbyn coming in at 97%, 100%, and 98% respectively. This helps explain Sajid’s dismally low numbers…

Finally, the public don’t appear to be too enthusiastic about a David Cameron comeback. Despite his name recognition, Dave comes in at 23rd, with just 18% approval and a worse negative rating than Nigel Farage…

ConHome Leader Survey: Boris Still Leading… Just

Sajid Javid continues to inch his way up in the estimations of Tory members, meanwhile Boris’ support has slipped by ten percentage points. Last Month Boris was on 30%, and David Davis on 6%. This month Boris falls to 19%, with DD soaring to third place on 13%. Michael Gove, who once topped the survey is now firmly in the also rans. The wider top ten includes the fresh faces of Penny Morduant, Liz Truss and James Cleverly. It’s a very wide field and there’s all to play for…

May Swerves Boris on Backstop

Brexiteers are not coming away particularly reassured on the backstop by May’s Commons statement. A number of times May was asked directly to confirm that the backstop would be time-limited. May insisted the backstop would be temporary but refused to give a firm answer on when it would end or how the UK could escape from it. Her answer to Boris is best described as aspirational…

“As I said when we published the temporary customs arrangement proposal back in June, we set that point of the expectation that that would be completed by December 2021. One of the issues as I indicated in my statement that we are discussing with the EU is how we can ensure that we do reflect the temporary nature of the backstop… I continue to believe that what we should all be doing is working to ensure that the backstop never comes into place…”

May’s response to a question on no deal being agreed has also raised a few eyebrows:

“If it were the case that at the end of the negotiation process actually it was a no deal… then actually that would come back to this House and then we would see what position this House would take in the circumstances.”

Is she going to shift her position on no deal too?

Boris “Chuck Chequers”

 

This is what the crowd wanted to hear…

Watch/Read in Full: Boris’ Speech

Eager punters have been queuing round the block for hours ahead of Boris’ big speech at Tory Conference, with an extra tier being opened up to take the hall to its full capacity of 1,500. Here’s what they heard Boris say:

“Good afternoon my friends and fellow ConHomers.

It is great to be here in Birmingham where so many thoroughfares in the city are already named after our superb Conservative Mayor. I know this conference is going to be a staggering success because just in the last couple of days about a dozen far left momentum activists have kindly pledged their loyalty by ringing my private mobile phone. I put them straight on to Brandon. Continue reading

Naughty Boris Runs Through Field of Wheat

As Tory delegates gather in Birmingham, Boris was out and about enjoying some fresh countryside air near his Oxfordshire home this morning, with one eagle-eyed snapper even managing to capture him running through what appears to look suspiciously like a field of wheat. The farmers can’t be the only ones who aren’t too pleased about that…

Tory Members Overwhelmingly Back Boris

Tory members still overwhelmingly back Boris for leader, the latest ConHome members survey has found, with the former Foreign Secretary and Brexit winner more than ten points ahead of his nearest rival, Sajid Javid.

After a muted Telegraph column from Boris today, all eyes will be on his big ‘Chuck Chequers’ speech to Tory conference, 1pm tomorrow…

Two-Timing Boris

Boris has managed to give his exclusive “first interview since resigning” to both the BBC’s Laura K and Sky’s Beth Rigby at the same time. Watch his BBC interview here

UPDATE: It turns out Boris gave not two but three interviews in the same room which have all gone out at the same time today – ITV’s Robert Peston has got in on the act too.

Boris Backs IEA’s Alternative Brexit Plan

Boris has given his backing to the IEA’s alternative Brexit plan launched this morning, telling Channel 4 News that it is a “very good piece of work” which “shows the flaws with Chequers” and deals with some of the “difficult questions” around the Irish border.

Brexiteers have been on the back foot since Chequers because of the accusation that they did not have a credible alternative. Now they believe they do…

UPDATE: Boris tweets…

Politicians With Specs Appeal Seem More Competent

No US president since Harry Truman has regularly worn glasses in public because spin doctors believe and say it makes them look old and feeble. According to research published in the Swiss Journal of Social Psychology that is bad advice because glasses are associated with ‘success, dependability, industry and intelligence’.[…] Read the rest

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