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. You have the highest negative rating of any of the main leadership contenders in YouGov’s table, and other polling seems to tell the same story. How can you possibly have time to turn these round if there’s an autumn election?
2. These scores seem to be not only a legacy of your period at Education under the Coalition, but a product of your treatment of Boris Johnson in 2016. Can voters ever see you as other than the man who knifed his mate?
3. There’s reason to think that these ratings are not fleeting, but rooted. How can your voice be heard above Tracey Ullman’s – and the caricature of you that she and others project into popular culture?
4. Talking of Johnson, which Cabinet job, if you win, will you offer him (and how could you serve under him)?
5. What seems to be your Brexit policy – namely, requesting another extension – re-ignites the trust issue. How can you be relied on not to seek another…then another…then another?
6. Any extension must be a pathway to No Brexit, No Deal…or another extension, perhaps with a second referendum attached. How would you avoid the no confidence vote that could be sparked by any of these?
7. As late as 2008, you described the Iraq War as “that rarest of things…a proper British policy success”. Is that still your view – and do you remain a neo-con?
Tomorrow: Dominic Raab.