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And then there were…

Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still

….eight, though by tomorrow that number will have been whittled down further until, by next Thursday, there will be two left standing in the race to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Whether that chalice will turn out to be as poisoned as it was for Boris Johnson remains to be seen. It will depend on the ability of the eventual winner to handle circumstances out of their control and certainly unforeseen. But them’s the breaks and you takes your chances  when you go for a role like that.

So, who, as of 10 am on Wednesday July 13th, is left in the running?  The Saj, Grant Shapps and that chap from Gillingham who by all accounts is a very good constituency MP but possible needs a bit more exposure before he can be taken seriously, are all out of the race.

Dishi Rishi has been prepping behind the scenes for this for some time. The speed and slick marketing with which the ReadyforRishi website was put out there shows you that.  He has the support of Shapps and Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister; not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Raab, bless him, does have a tendency to let his mouth start talking while his brain is still working out where he is, and what he’s supposed to be doing there.

Liz Truss has been talked about as a potential PM for some years. Unfortunately, she also has a tendency to play dressing up – a bit like Johnson, she seems to be mad for the idea of a photo shoot in hard hat. She also has the might of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries behind her. If she can get through the final two despite their support, then she obviously has a lot more going for her.

Tom Turgenhat I rather like but that’s probably because he’s one of only two in this list that I have actually met, plus he is the MP for my neighbouring constituency, so there’s a bit of Kentish pride at play. He’s quietly impressive as the Action Man candidate, having walked the walked, and as a translator talked the talk (see what I did there?), in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s clearly very capable, and a jolly good constituency MP, but he looks about nine. They’ll have to change the voting hours in Parliament as they’ll go on beyond his bed-time.

Nadim Zahawi, the other candidate that I’ve met, if he gets through could have been said to have played a blinder. He refused to move to health to replace Sajid Javid when he resigned, insisting instead that it was the Chancellor’s seat or nothing. Nadim 1: Boris 0 in that round. I have to say I had high hopes for him at Education, though he couldn’t make more of a mess of it than that chocolate-fireguard Sir (!) Gavin Williamson.

Penny Mourdant seems to be the grassroots choice, having been quietly getting on with her various roles, keeping her head down; as a result, I don’t know a huge amount about her. Ditto Kemi Badenoch who, it seems is the wild card getting a lot of support. Is a steady, old-hand what is required? Or a new broom, who can see things in a different way? Michael Gove certainly seems to think she’s the way to go. Again, I’m not sure if that endorsement is a good thing or not for Badenoch.

Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, is another one that I don’t know much about, apart from her being the AG. I know the new Health Secretary, Steve Baker, is supporting her but as I had to look him up, too, I’m not sure it’s a ringing endorsement. And, while I’m on the topic of Health, I’m afraid I don’t hold out much hope for Jeremey Hunt. The former Foreign and Health Secretary polled a third of the votes in the final ballot last time out, losing to Johnson’s 66%. Statistics show that no former candidate has ever, in recent times, won the Tory leadership race a second time. Sorry Jeremy.

Only the next few days and weeks will tell.

 

PS: Stole this from Twitter:

Untitled 5

 

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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