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)

Brexiteers and DUP Publish Alternative Backstop Proposal

While the country anxiously waits for the result of tonight’s confidence vote, it is worth remembering that the problems of May’s deal, and particularly the backstop, have not gone away. However, Brexiteers hoped to do just that with the launch of a new 59-page report this morning, complete with 6 annexes including a fully drafted alternative Irish backstop protocol, by “Brexiteers’ Brain” Shanker Singham, lawyer Robert MacLean and Dutch customs expert Hans Maessen. It is not a wishlist, it is a fully legally operable text…

Also on hand to launch the report were former Brexit Secretary David Davis, former Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, and crucially, DUP leader Arlene Foster. The bottom line is that even if May survives tonight’s vote, she has no majority in Parliament without the DUP’s support. If the Government are going to get their deal through they need to start listening to alternative proposals instead of just sticking their fingers in their ears…

Shailesh Vara Resigns As Northern Ireland Minister Over May’s Deal

In the first Government resignation since the Cabinet agreed to Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara ‏has resigned in order to vote against the agreement. Vara, who voted Remain and initially supported Chequers, says the draft agreement locks the UK into the “shackles of the EU.” Guido has heard another resignation may be imminent… 

Read the full text of Vara’s resignation letter below:

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Quote of the Day

Ruth Davidson on working with PM Boris

“I have worked with him when he was Foreign Secretary. I will work with whoever the Prime Minister is. I haven’t had a phone call yet to ask me to run his campaign in Scotland. I am not expecting the call. But I will genuinely judge him on the same criteria as I judge any of the candidates.”

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