Meet the Candidates: Team Raab

The Tory contenders are gearing up for what might well become the most protracted Tory leadership contest ever – it could be another 8 months before the race officially starts if May clings on ’til December. That hasn’t stopped the candidates from starting to get their teams together already…

Dominic Raab has assembled a number of key Vote Leave figures behind him – James Starkie joined Team Raab last month, Beth Armstrong was Raab’s SpAd as Brexit Secretary but stuck with her boss after his resignation. Arbuthnot Banking Group have donated £44,259 to Raab to cover her salary for 6 months. Both are former SpAds for Michael Gove…

Spinning for him is the formidable Paul Stephenson, Vote Leave’s former Director of Comms and co-founder of Hanbury Strategy. Officially, Stephenson only has an informal advisory role…

A number of MPs are also already said to be on board the Raab train, including former Brexit Minister Suella Braverman. Raab is said to have provisionally lined up former ministers Sir Hugo Swire and Shailesh Vara to propose and second him. Braverman and Vara both resigned alongside Raab last November…

Raab’s main problem is that he and Boris will likely be fighting over the same MPs and the same endorsements from the Brexit-supporting press. Here’s how his other key stats compare:

Social media support: Ready for Raab has 1.7k followers, Raab himself has 44.1k followers and his Facebook has 3.4k.

Mainstream media support: None as yet, though Stephenson is close to the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman. In the last few weeks Raab’s had a few op-eds for The Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday.

ConservativeHome members survey: 18% (2nd)

YouGov public recognition: 19% (7th)

PaddyPower odds: 9/1 (4th)

Bankers’ Spinner Bolsters ‘No’ Campaign

A big boost for the ‘No’ campaign, who have signed up top British Bankers’ Association spinner Paul Stephenson to run their comms. Dominic Cummings is hiring:

“If you want to get overpaid for lying to people, call the EU Commission or Roland Rudd – he tells the media he wants to pay his campaign manager 500k: you can hire 20 junior people for that and I’ll bet they’ll drive the guy on 500k round the bend before they’re done…”

Stephenson is a former Tory press officer turned DfT and then DH SpAd, and one of the best in the business. His appointment also neuters the line that the City is pro-EU, as clearly the bankers’ spinner disagrees. Downing Street will rue the day they didn’t hug him close and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse…

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Quote of the Day

Responding to Corbyn’s statement that the US should have arrested ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, John Mann bluntly tweeted:

Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide belt. An arrest might have been slightly difficult in these circumstances.”

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