Well, the race for Prime Minister began in earnest this week, and of the original twelve horses, two were humanely put down before the starting pistol was even fired, and another three have fallen at the first hurdle.
While two of those candidates were strong proponents of a no-deal Brexit, the chances of no-deal actually happening improved considerably this week, as MPs failed to back a Labour-led motion that protected against proroguing Parliament (i.e. preventing Parliament from having any say on the matter).
In the immortal words of Han Solo, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
DNF, And The Frontrunners So Far…
Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Mark Harper joined James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse in the glue factory, having failed to secure the number of votes by MPs for them to enter the second part of the leadership contest.
While Mark Harper was never going to go far, Esther McVey was a loud advocate for a hard Brexit and Andrea Leadsom will be disappointed, having got to the head-to-head stage against Theresa May last time around. The fact that they both fell so early in the race will be a bitter pill to swallow.
But for many non-Conservatives (and probably a few Conservatives, too), their falling by the wayside could be considered cause for some relief. Two of the more extreme candidates have fallen.
But, that is not to say that there are not extreme candidates remaining. One is even the odds-on frontrunner.
Yesterday, the first round of votes were cast by the Tory MPs for their preferred candidate for leader – they were as follows:
- BoJo: 114
- Hunt: 43
- Gove: 37
- Raab: 27
- Javid: 23
- Hancock: 20
- Stewart: 19
- Leadsom: 11
- Harper: 10
- McVey: 9
The number the candidates had to get to was 17 – hence the bottom three being eliminated.
Boris’ domination was expected, but to have as high a number as 114 is absurd. 105 is considered to be the number required to make it into the final two, so to get over that on the first round of votes alone is quite something.
Hunt will be pleased with his score, as will Gove considering his recent stumble over his cocaine use. Sajid David, however, will be disappointed – he was pitching himself as a non-traditional Tory against the Old Etonian elites like Johnson. It would have made for an interesting final two, but sadly it looks as though he’s pretty much done for.
Matt Hancock will probably be slightly disappointed, but will have known that his was a long shot – he is one for the future rather than for this particular leadership race. Rory Stewart, by contrast, will probably be delighted – he was an absolute unknown before this contest, but his excellent social media campaigning has made people sit up and listen.
Additionally, there will now be televised debates held by the candidates – Stewart could do well on these.
Dominic Raab, the anti-feminist, mouldy crouton floating in the minestrone of bonkersness that is this race, now has a tough decision to make. As Boris is so far ahead and is also a hard-Brexiteer, should he now pull out and lend his support to BoJo? If he did, he could be rewarded with a Cabinet position for loyalty…
Time will tell.
But make no mistake – this race is only just getting started.
No To No No-Deal
On Wednesday, a motion was put before the House of Commons by the Labour Party that was designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit happening without Parliament’s approval. It had nothing legally binding attached to it, unlike the Cooper Bill that passed a few months ago, and was just a safeguard to prevent democracy being sidelined.
Because nothing in British politics makes sense anymore, the motion was defeated by 11 votes, despite ten Conservative MPs rebelling against the government to vote in favour of it.
It failed to pass because a number of Labour MPs who represent Leave-heavy constituencies either abstained or voted against it.
It isn’t a definitive ruling on whether or not no-deal would be permitted, as some of the Vote Leave head honchos are saying it is. However, it is still a blow for those who are worried about candidates like Dominic Raab and even Boris Johnson saying that they could bypass Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit through.
But there is still plenty of time left. In both the leadership race, and in the grim march to the next deadline of October 31st. What will happen during that time is unclear.
But the one thing you can be sure of is that there are going to be a number of deeply unpleasant arguments.
The fuse is lit… But what will the explosion look like?
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