A series in which we ask some key questions of the leading contenders – seven, in the case of the leading ones. They may not be the most convenient, but that’s why we’re asking them.
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1. Shortly before the 2016 leadership election, you supported staying in the Single Market. When did you change your mind and, if you’ve changed it once on the issue, might you not change it again?
2. You now say that the Commons won’t allow No Deal, and that any attempt to achieve it will provoke a disastrous general election. So what will you do as Prime Minister if you can’t get a deal agreed and ratified by October 31?
3. You also say that “with the current deal, I cannot see a way forward”. This suggests not only that you aim to get a deal by October 31, but that it will be a new one. How can you achieve this in fewer than five months?
4. You also write that “we cannot consider going back to the people before we have delivered Brexit”. How can you say this when you don’t control the decision, since the Commons has the power to compel an election?
5. You describe such an election as “political suicide”. Doesn’t it follow that you can’t be the new Conservative leader, because you’ve no confidence in your own ability to win an autumn election if one is forced on you?
6. In YouGov’s ratings, you are the 17th most popular Conservative politician. That’s not an especially high place. Haven’t you an unpopularity legacy from your days as Health Secretary that simply won’t go away?
7. There is a crisis of trust in the Tory Party. And you are very much part of the Party establishment – accomplished, long-serving, moderate, conventional. Are you the transformative leadership that the country needs right now?
Tomorrow: Michael Gove