Vulcan Insight

Conservative Party Leadership Race 

31 May 2019

Under Conservative party rules Tory MPs select two candidates to go through to a run-off where over 120,000 members of the party get to vote for their first preference. As many as 15 potential candidates are said to be eyeing their chances of taking over from current Prime Minister Theresa May in what is likely to be the most crowded field for a Tory leadership election in decades.

Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary begins this race as the clear favourite to take over from Mrs. May. His strong commitment to a hard Brexit is critical to his support among Tory activists. However, Mr Johnson has made several blunders that may hamper his chances of becoming Prime Minister. More recently, Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over claims he lied by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week. He has been accused of misconduct in public office after making the claim during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Johnson was a popular Mayor of London but his ruthless obsession with becoming Prime Minister has turned him into a liked and disliked figure in equal measure around Westminster. Several Tory MPs have said they will leave the party if he is elected leader. His appointment as PM would probably harden the stance of some European leaders against offering the UK another extension of the Article 50 divorce process beyond October 31.

Michael Gove as Education Secretary implemented sweeping reforms of standards and structures that were disliked by many teachers and parents. Gove has portrayed himself as firm on Brexit but he has more potential to unite the Conservative party than Boris Johnson. In his current job as Environment Secretary, he appears to have become convinced that the UK must avoid a no-deal Brexit. However Gove has developed a reputation for betraying his allies after destabilising both David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Other high-profile contenders for the position at the top of the Conservative party include Andrea Leadsom, the former leader of the House of Commons who resigned last week;  Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt; Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab; and Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The deadline for nominations is the week starting June 10. Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said he hoped the process to determine the final choice to put to members would be concluded by the end of June. There will then be a series of hustings around the UK, followed by a postal ballot of Conservative Party members. The result is announced before Parliament rises for the summer.