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Leadership 1) YouGov poll lines up with ConHome survey: Johnson is Party members choice for next Party leader

“Boris Johnson is the clear favourite to be the next prime minister, according to a poll of members of the Conservative Party. The former foreign secretary was the first choice to replace Theresa May for 39 per cent of those polled. The second-most popular, Dominic Raab, attracted 13 per cent, with support for all other contenders in single figures. In a head-to-head vote, Mr Johnson would beat Mr Raab by 59 points to 41, and every other contender by a bigger margin, according to the YouGov poll for The Times in which 858 Tory party members were interviewed between May 10 and 16. Mr Johnson would be a divisive choice to succeed Mrs May at No 10. Although 49 per cent of the party’s Leave supporters put him as their first choice, only 10 per cent of Remain voters in the party favour him.” – The Times

  • Brexit Party will still field candidates in the General Election even if Johnson is Tory leader – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • His to lose: Boris Johnson’s only hurdle is a lack of trust – The Times
  • Steve Baker is the determined, principled leader we need in these troubled times – Molly Giles, Daily Telegraph
  • May must go immediately after her Brexit deal’s final defeat in June – Leader, The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: The Tory leadership contest should seek to connect with the public, not just Party members

.>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Conservatives need a new leader by the end of July

Leadership 2) Gove “picking up support from MPs”

“Tory leadership rivals fear Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Amber Rudd are ready to form a “dream team” to seize No.10….One MP dubbed the trio the ‘Bee Gees’ given their close links to ex-Chancellor George Osborne….Mr Gove hosted a dinner for 50 MPs in Chelsea pub on Tuesday and insiders claim he is benefiting from the sense the next leader needs to be a Brexiteer….One source told The Sun: “There is growing talk about these three getting together. It’s clear Amber’s not running – she’s waiting till the last minute to endorse someone in the hope of a landing a big job.”…Mr Gove is already understood to have won the backing of key members of the self-styled ‘One Nation’ Tory grouping – including such as Nicky Morgan and Tom Tugendhat.” – The Sun

Leadership 3) Hancock cautions against an early General Election

“Theresa May’s successor must not call an early general election because it risks handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10 and “killing Brexit altogether”, Matt Hancock has warned. With the Brexit Party riding high in the polls ahead of Thursday’s European Parliament elections and Labour projected to win the most seats if a general election was called tomorrow, the Health Secretary urged MPs to “deliver Brexit and move forward”. MPs will be given one more chance to vote for Mrs May’s Brexit deal next month, but with Labour formally ending cross-party talks yesterday the vote has little chance of success. Mrs May has agreed to step down regardless of the result of the vote, but Mr Hancock, who is himself expected to run for the Tory leadership, cautioned against the idea of her successor calling an election to seek a new Brexit mandate.” – Daily Telegraph

Leadership 4) Hammond warns candidates against big spending promises

“Philip Hammond has fired a warning shot across the bows of Tory leadership candidates vying for support by making big public spending promises, telling ministers to prepare for another tight public spending round. The chancellor, who said in March that this summer’s spending review would put Britain “on the road out of austerity”, has written to all government departments telling them to expect spending increases from next April to rise only in line with inflation. In a letter to permanent secretaries seen by the FT, Mr Hammond made it clear he was withholding the £26.6bn war chest he had amassed for higher spending in 2020-21 or lower taxes once the Brexit deal had been approved by parliament.” – Financial Times

Leadership 5) Grassroots Tory activists “demand rule change to ensure Johnson is on the final ballot”

“Grassroots Tories have demanded changes to the Conservative Party’s leadership election rules to ensure Boris Johnson is on the final ballot paper….John Strafford, chairman of the Conservative Campaign for Democracy, has written to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs and Andrew Sharpe, Chairman of the National Conservative Convention of grassroots Tories, demanding that “at least four MPs should be put before members”….Dinah Glover, chairman of the London East Area Conservatives, said it was possible the matter could be discussed at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the National Convention on June 15, which was called to hold a confidence vote in Theresa May.” – Daily Telegraph

Leadership 6) Survation poll among the public has Johnson ahead with Javid next

“The exclusive Survation poll for the Daily Mail put the former foreign secretary more than 20 points ahead of Sajid Javid, his nearest rival for Theresa May’s job. But two ministers said opposition to the former foreign secretary is so strong that some would be prepared to vote against him if he tried to introduce a Queen’s speech – sparking an election this summer…The Survation poll showed he was also the candidate with the highest ratings on the question of who would make a good prime minister and on who would be a vote winner.” – Daily Mail

Leadership 7) Davidson: The contest gives the Tories an opportunity to revitalise

“New leadership brings with it the chance for renewal and floods the political landscape with oxygen. However, a party of government, one that has spent years in office and delivered one of the most gruelling peacetime events, will have to work hard to grasp that opportunity…Let’s repeat and repeat three key policies on education, house building and the economy. And, finally, let’s make it clear to people that we are no nostalgia party, looking to the past, but one with a clear idea of Britain’s future, the tools we need to get us there and the openness to bring the whole country with us. That’s how we win again.” – Ruth Davidson, Daily Telegraph

Leadership 8) Warning against extended contest

“Senior Conservatives are warning against a prolonged leadership contest that would mean Theresa May remaining as caretaker prime minister until late summer. The prime minister promised the backbench 1922 Committee on Thursday that she would set out a timetable for her departure once MPs had been given a vote on the withdrawal agreement bill in early June. A short contest is thought to favour the frontrunner among members, Boris Johnson. The former foreign secretary put forward his candidacy on Thursday, while conceding that no vacancy was yet available…But with a wide field of other candidates including several cabinet members expected to enter the race, MPs believe it could take several rounds of twice-weekly votes to whittle them down to the pair that must be presented to members. They expect members could then be given a month or more to make up their minds, with Tory party HQ reportedly identifying venues for grassroots hustings events.” – The Guardian

Brexit 1) Cross-party talks finally collapse

“The collapse in the talks, although widely expected, increases the high chances of the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill falling at the first hurdle when it is introduced into parliament next month. Mrs May suggested that the option of indicative Commons votes to find out what MPs would be prepared to accept remained under consideration before the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was brought to parliament in the week beginning June 3. The failure to reach agreement was met with despair from business leaders. The Confederation of British Industry called on MPs to cancel the recess planned for the end of May.” – The Times

  • Even a blind man could have told May these talks would fail – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Sterling falls – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

Brexit 2) May to offer more concessions to the DUP

“Theresa May is ready to put concessions to the DUP and Tory Eurosceptics in her Brexit legislation in a desperate final bid to win support. Senior sources last night claimed the Withdrawal Bill (WAB) going before the Commons early next week will be amended to “build the broadest coalition possible”. One concession will see No.10 commit to alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop by the end of 2020. Another will enshrine in law a commitment to regulatory alignment between Britain and Northern Ireland in any trade deal with Brussels.” – The Sun

Euro Elections 1) Low-key launch to Conservative campaign

“As photographs go, it told a thousand words about the beleaguered state of a premiership on the brink. If Theresa May had hoped her unannounced appearance in Bristol would be a pleasant surprise for Tory MEP candidates, then they had a funny way of showing it. With the Brexit Party riding high in the polls and Mrs May under growing pressure to set a timetable for her departure, the glum look on the candidates’ faces appeared to suggest that they would rather the Prime Minister was anywhere else but in their constituency on Friday. Six days out from the European Parliament elections and the scene was more akin to a wake than a political rally.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The Tories are heading towards the cliff edge – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Postcard from the edge of the Tory abyss – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail
  • Ulster Unionist candidate warns against “no deal” – Belfast Telegraph

>Today: Rosalind Beck on Comment: It’s not just EU policy that’s driving conservative voters towards the Brexit Party.

>Yesterday: WATCH: May comes out to front for the Party in the European elections

Euro Elections 2) Rachel Johnson attacks Change UK

“Change UK has a bad name, a confused leadership structure and should have made a pact with other Remain parties, one of its leading candidates in the European elections next week has said. Rachel Johnson, 53, who is top of the new party’s list in southwest England, criticised the party’s strategy in an interview with The Times. “Change UK is a terrible name,” she said. “They want to focus-group everything and they have a leadership team of about 11 people.” – The Times

  • Interview with Rachel Johnson – The Times

Euro Elections 3) Annunziata Rees-Mogg visits Mansfield

“In the market square in Mansfield, opposite the fruit and veg stall and the man from the Salvation Army selling copies of War Cry, a slim, smiling woman is surrounded by a gaggle of middle-aged admirers. They want to shake her hand; they want to get a selfie. She has brought a bit of stardust to town and they are all determined to meet her. It’s almost as good as having her brother. “I’m sorry,” says one, to no one in particular. “How do you pronounce the name? Annunziata? I don’t want to offend her.” It is, of course, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, younger sister of Jacob, and the most high-profile recruit to the Brexit Party since Nigel Farage first set the ball rolling with Ukip Mark II.” – The Times

  • Bridgen refuses to defect – The Times
  • Scottish Leave voters are being treated with contempt, declares Farage – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish independence within the EU is not possible, claims Brexit Party – The Guardian
  • Farage’s pitch to SNP voters – The Scotsman

>Today: Book Reviews: Rees-Mogg draws resounding moral lessons from the Victorians

Wright announces £62 million to restore derelict buildings in high streets

“A £62 million cash boost has been announced by ministers to save the nation’s beleaguered high streets. The Government-funded warchest is aimed at helping transform derelict historic buildings in waning town centres into new retail outlets, offices, creative spaces and housing. It is part of a wider plan to regenerate Britain’s high streets, which have been hit hard by the rise of internet shopping and business rates….Announcing the initiative, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “It is right that we do all we can to not only protect our heritage, but make it work for modern life.” – Daily Mail

Carmichael plans to stand for Leader of the Lib Dems

“The Lib Dem’s chief whip Alistair Carmichael is considering throwing his hat into the ring to replace outgoing leader Sir Vince Cable, The Sun has learnt. Party insiders said the Orkney and Shetland MP, who served in the Cabinet as Scotland Secretary during the Coalition government, would pitch himself as the experienced choice. He is expected to be up against deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and ex-Environment Secretary Sir Ed Davey. Sir Vince is expected to quit as leader after Thursday’s European elections.” – The Sun

Australia goes to the polls

“Australians have begun voting on Saturday in the first general election since political infighting ousted the nation’s fourth leader in a decade. PM Scott Morrison says he has united his conservative government in the nine months since he replaced Malcolm Turnbull. Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has pressed his case with stark policy alternatives. Australia has mandatory voting and a record 16.4 million enrolled voters.” – BBC

>Yesterday: Terry Barnes on Comment: The Australian election looks closer than might have been expected

Parris: Islam can’t be the only faith above criticism

“We already have laws against race hatred, and we have courts to sniff it out, even when disguised as religious commentary. But if Islam is to be cut down to size — as, being a rationalist atheist, I think it should be — then free, fierce, even contemptuous dissent from faith-based orthodoxies must never be stifled. MPs were right to abolish the crime of blasphemy against Christianity in 2008. They should be on guard against the return of this thinking, clad in the robes of another faith.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • Fresh evidence of Hungary vote-rigging raises concerns of fraud in European elections – Garvan Walshe, Open Democracy
  • Meet the secret Brexiteers – Claire Fox, The Spectator
  • Is the Brexit Party bigger than Brexit? – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • Expect a massive rejection of Labour and the Tories in the North East at the Euro election – Brian Monteith, Brexit Central
  • Face it, a new Tory leader means an early general election – Iain Martin, Reaction

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