Remember Brown who was spared that inconvenience?
There’s said to be talks taking place amongst “senior Tories” that if May wins convincingly in the first MP ballot on Tuesday then the other contenders should be asked to step aside so that the Home Secretary could start her job immediately. It sounds seductive but it would be a serious mistake.
The most recent precedent was Gordon Brown’s elevation to the party leadership and Number 10 in 2007. In order to prevent other contenders coming into the race Team Brown made incredible efforts to get enough MPs to nominate him so that there were not enough MPs remaining for anybody else to meet the nomination threshold. Brown had a short honeymoon, bottled an October 2007 election, and it was all downhill from there
I argued strongly at the time that this was a mistake. It made his succession to PM appear to lack democratic legitimacy but most of all it meant he was not able to hone is campaigning skills by fighting a leadership election. It also deprived signed up members of being part of the selection process.
Four years earlier, in 2003, the Tories fixed a “coronation” for Micheal Howard after the hapless IDS was booted out on a confidence vote of MPs. Howard then went onto lead the Tories, even with Lynton’s Crosby’s help, into a third election defeat at the hand of Tony Blair’s Labour.
I think that Theresa May would find the process of fighting the membership election one that could be enormously invaluable to her in the years to come. It would also boost the profile of the person she is fighting which would be no bad thing.