With Theresa May certain not to lead the Conservative Party into another election, attention has already, unavoidably shifted onto the leadership election to come.
Amongst both backbench MPs and Party members, there is increasing anger at infighting between Cabinet ministers and their supporters as they jockey to position themselves for when the time comes.
Over on Vice, Marie Le Conte provides some (anonymous, and therefore remarkably candid) comments from a selection of Tory insiders about the state of the contest. They’re all worth reading, but one in particular catches the eye:
“There’s a generation for whom it’s very much their last hurrah – if they don’t make it this time they’re finished, and retirement on the back benches and a potential knighthood is all they can look forward to, and that’s why they’re being so vicious.”
Many commentators, this author included, have speculated that the Party may try to skip a generation when the Prime Minister steps down, in order to put a difficult period behind it and to reach out to younger voters. But this would also align the leadership with the great majority of the Parliamentary party.
Of the 317 Conservative MPs (excluding the Speaker) elected in 2017, only 108 were elected at or before the 2005 election. After that we have 114 first elected in 2010, 60 in 2015, and 30 in 2017, with the last five elected in post-2005 bye-elections.
This means that just 34 per cent – barely more than a third – of Tory MPs predate David Cameron’s leadership. This is a truly remarkable generational shift, especially in an era when parliamentarians have not been called up to serve in war.
Viewed in this light, a changing of the guard in 2019 or 2020 makes even more sense – as does the tenacity with which the older generation are lining up their final shot at the top.