Theresa May sends a strong reminder that she’s still in the race

Theresa May sends a strong reminder that she’s still in the race


Even Boris’s sister has gone on the attack

If it was the Home Secretary’s intention yesterday to stir up some controversy and get big headlines this morning then the plan has worked very well.

Above is just a selection of papers which have made her conference speech the main story. The Independent, of course, is taking a strikingly different approach to the Daily Mail but in terms of impact that doesn’t matter.

Last night Rachel Johnson, the sister of Boris, went on the radio to attack the tone of Theresa May’s speech reinforcing the view that it had an impact.

This year’s Conservative Conference is the first since David Cameron announced in March that he would not be seeking a third term thus sparking off leadership speculation.

Judging by the betting markets and the Conservativehome regular polls of party members Theresa May has seen a steep drop in her position in the past 6 months. Along with Boris she has been hit most by the rise and rise of George Osborne and the now almost certain acceptance in many circles now that he is the heir apparent.

She has, however, several things going in her favour. Firstly she’s occupied the post of Home Secretary, for five and a half years and has managed to avoid many of the pitfalls that previous occupants of that job have experienced.

Secondly she is a woman and many Tories still look back to the glory days of their party when their leader was female. She was also state school educated in sharp contrast to Cameron, Osborne and of course Johnson. There are no lurid stories about fancy dining societies that she was part of while at Oxford.

The big question mark over her leadership prospects is whether under the party’s complex two stage leadership election system she could get through the first round where only Conservative MPs vote.

The second round is a ballot of the membership at large and only two candidates are put forward. If she got to that stage then memories of speeches like yesterday’s will be very important.

Mike Smithson

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