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Notwithstanding

(…as the Speaker wouldn’t allow us to write.  Or as he would.  Who can tell?…)

…the fact that Theresa May has not promised to quit if her deal fails; and that she has not announced a specific timetable, it is very likely that the Conservative Party will have new leader, and the country a new Prime Minister, by the time of the autumn’s Party Conference.

We now count over 15 possible contenders.  And these are only the most likely ones.  As follows:

James Cleverly, David Davis, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Brandon Lewis, Esther McVey, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Amber Rudd, Rory Stewart, Tom Tugendhat, Elizabeth Truss, Gavin Williamson.

Here are some questions for all of them.

  • People increasingly identify as either Leavers or Remainers.  What’s your plan to bring the country together?
  • Younger voters tend to Remain, Older voters lean to Leave, the crossover point for voting Conservative is now roughly 50.  How would you attract voters in their 30s and 40s – and younger ones too?
  • There is a political and culture gap between London, its outposts, and much of the rest of the country.  Which voters would you target – Ashfield’s or Battersea’s and if both, how?
  • Britain’s establishment hasn’t coped with negotiating Brexit – government, civil service, Commons, Lords, Speaker.  Is the problem systems, people, both – and what would you change, and how?
  • The Conservatives have long been the party of capital.  If you believe we need more of it, what’s your strategy for those who don’t have a stake in the system, and are losing out from globalisation…?
  • And if you think we need less of it – or that it must be constrained, in the One Nation tradition – how will you win “the battle of ideas” against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour?
  • The people voted for Brexit.  MPs yearn to Remain.  Party members want to Leave.  If they give you a mandate for a clean Brexit, how will you get it through Parliament?
  • The Conservative Party is not in a good place and three elected MPs have left it.  What’s your plan to revive it and what’s your offer to Party members?
  • You need the votes of your Parliamentary colleagues to be put to the members.  They are exhausted, bewildered and demoralised.  How would you energise them, help them, inspire them – and lead?
  • The Left has a big say and the Right a smaller one in the commanding heights of our institutions – especially the Universities.  Does this matter and if so what will you do about it, if anything?
  • Britain faces new political, technological and cultural challenges: it always does.  Do you see Brexit as a help or a hindrance – and what’s your vision for our post-Leave country?
  • You have a choice of attending a Channel 4 party or mixing in a provincial pub bar.  Look us in the eye and tell us at which you feel more at home, and why?

150 comments for: They’re off! (Well, perhaps.) Twelve questions for leadership candidates.

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