Being seen to be successful ministers will be crucial
Ever since last June when Theresa May lost the Conservative Party its majority there has always been a chance of a leadership contest. We have had repeated stories about MPs being ready to send letters to the chairman of the 1922 committee seeking a confidence vote. The fact that this has not materialised so far doesn’t mean it is not going to happen.
In view of the febrile state of the party caused by the splits on Brexit we have to recognise that a contest could happen at any time so we need to keep an eye on the betting markets on who will replace her.
The critical thing to remember about the Conservative leadership is that the election process is of two stages. The first is a series of ballots of the parliamentary party to decide which two should go to the membership. The second and final round is the mass mailing to members which makes the final decision.
The top of the betting for nine months have been Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Currently the former is rated as a 18% chance with the latter a 9% one on Betfair.
My view is that neither will make it to the final round. Rees-mogg is certainly popular amongst a part of the party but it is hard to see him securing the votes of more than 100 MPs in the leadership contest secret ballot of MPs. He’ll need more than that to get to the members ballot. He also suffers from not being a minister which could be key given that that the election could be about choosing a prime minister.
Boris’s big negative is being Boris. He’s never really looked like a serious Foreign Secretary and there is plenty to use against him in the dirt that’s likely to be flung about in a leadership contest. Just remember what happened to Andrea leadsom last time.
My current view is that the final two to go to the Ballot will be the current Environment secretary, Michael Gove, abd Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary who replaced Amber Rudd a month or so ago.
Both look as though they are on top of their ministerial briefs and appear confident in themselves.