The YouGov/Sunday Times polling this weekend which put various potential Tory leaders against Corbyn to voters has given much food for thought for Tory MPs as they head off for recess. With Labour now pulling ahead (41% against 36%) in polling since the Chequers Plan sell-out, the question of who can beat Corbyn post-May is becoming urgent…
Despite a continuous monstering in many of the pro-Remain papers by green-eyed hacks, Boris remains the Tories’ best hope according to YouGov. With Boris as leader the Tories would now be tied (38% to 38%) with Corbyn’s Labour. With Mogg they trail Labour by 5%, with Gove, Saj and Hunt they would be double digits behind. Something for Tory MPs in marginal seats to reflect on over the holidays.
Boris still has the ability to reach parts of the electorate that no other Tory can, he is the reason the Leave campaign won the referendum. When Tory MPs return to their constituencies, this polling will focus minds in the coming months…
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) July 8, 2018
Michael Gove gave a full-throated defence of Theresa May’s deal on Marr, blasting those criticising the proposal as being guilty of “fake and mock outrage”. Gove says the two people who most oppose the deal are Clegg and Farage. Err, what about multiple Cabinet members, dozens and dozens of Tory MPs, 60% of Tory members (according to a ConHome poll this morning). And no doubt a huge number of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave. Are they all faking it?
Guido understands that Gove fully backed the PM’s plan from the beginning of the Chequers meeting, to the astonishment of Brexiters in the room. Gove has carefully moderated his position on Brexit over the last year, calculating that his best shot of becoming leader is getting Remain MPs onside. Today he has written a joint op-ed with ultra-Remainer Greg Clark in the Mail on Sunday lavishing praise on the deal. Guido can’t help but wonder if Gove has misjudged this. What will Brexiteer MPs and voters make of his performance over the last 48 hours?
The conversation in Tory circles is very much centred around Theresa May going in the spring if she makes it through this year. ConHome’s survey of party members this morning calculates that Sajid Javid would currently beat Michael Gove as their choice for next leader. The run offs ConHome has surveyed over the last few days have been interesting: Boris beats Hunt, Saj beats Hunt (not much going for the Health Secretary) and Gove beats Boris. Saj has had a good couple of months and finds himself in a strong position…
Team Truss spinning hard that she didn’t break collective responsibility on the government’s plastic straws policy as that line was taken out of the speech. As you can see above though, she did make the crack at “wood-burning Gove”.
— Robert Peston (@Peston) June 26, 2018
Truss is boldly attempting to spin her jibe as a good-natured joke about a “good mate”. Interesting way to treat your mates…
Some choice quotes from the keynote speakers at the launch of the Osbornite / Mayite / centrist think tank Onward last night. Ruth Davidson left the sweaty Churchill Room in parliament in no doubt as to who she was talking about here:
“Sometimes as Tories we just look a bit dour. We look a bit joyless, to be fair. A bit authoritarian, sometimes. We don’t get to win if we start hectoring the people that we need to vote for us… We’ve got to learn to be a bit more joyful… It’s not just what you say but it’s what you can show people… when you do it with a smile, they actually get behind you.”
Bet that went down well in Number 10.
Her attack on Labour was punchy too:
“If you look at Jeremy Corbyn, actually I feel sad. I feel sad at how far a once important, integral, sensible, solid party has fallen. And I then look at John McDonnell, and the shock troops, and the troll factories, and the conspiracy theories and their envy and their fake news and their Skwawkbox and their Canary and the rest of it, and I think that this Labour Party has about the same amount of moral authority as Sepp Blatter putting a fiver on Russia getting the World Cup. I genuinely think to myself, when I look at the Nationalists or the Corbynistas, what I see is a movement that works in its own way to break up our country. That’s what they want. They want to tear it apart.”
A woke Michael Gove said of Ruth: “In the future when think tanks ask, ‘Can we get the pregnant lesbian to speak?’, they will ask: ‘Which pregnant lesbian?’”. Less woke Gove made two comparisons between himself and Ruth, first as Ike and Tina Turner, the second between Sonny and Cher. Perhaps might have thought that through.
His musical call for the Tories to pursue a Fleetwood Mac / Pharrell Williams strategy was more successful: ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow’ and ‘Happy’ would certainly be a change of tone. Gove echoed Ruth in calling for optimism, though his call could have easily applied to Remainers as well:
“Sometimes in the past the Tories have been pessimistic and unhappy, uncomfortable that we seem to be living in the 21st century, when the 1950s would be far more attractive, and what a pity that the 19th century isn’t an option. Indeed when I heard today that Club 18-30 was at last closing, I thought that must be a group of Conservative modernisers looking forward to that year as some glorious future to which they can aspire.”
The evening was also notable for Neil O’Brien’s Macron style speech, which several in the audience saw as the beginnings of a leadership bid. The theme of the night certainly that the Tories should be more bold, interesting, positive and happy than what is currently on offer…
Gove ruled out an extension to the transition period, telling Nick Robinson “I don’t believe in an extension… in delay there lies no plenty… we need to crack on” and must “meet the deadline”. That’s a thanks but no thanks to Nick Boles’ suggestion from last week…