Johnson is the favourite with the polls, bookies and it seems the public and has successfully overcome all accusations of laziness and inconsistency
In the Parliamentary game of “it’s a knockout”, Boris Johnson was the winner by a country mile, scoring 114 votes. Only 105 are needed to be on the final ballot of two. As well as healthy support from Remainers including his brother Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson has garnered the support of dedicated Leavers such as Priti Patel, Kit Malthouse, John Redwood, Marcus Fysh and the all-important Steve Baker of the Clean Managed Brexit proposal (a future Brexit Secretary?). Much has been made of Johnson’s achievements as Mayor of London and his promise to be out of the EU by 31 October. Johnson is the favourite with the polls, bookies and it seems the public, and of Sir Alan Sugar, business tycoon, The Apprentice hirer and firer, and Labour politico who is furiously against Jeremy Corbyn occupying No10. Johnson has successfully overcome all accusations of laziness and inconsistency; folks believe he is sincere and has the commitment to deliver Brexit by 31 October and the skill to bring the Tory party and Britain back to international relevance; he has the Leadership X factor. However, in a reaction to Johnson’s earlier comments about the burqa, Mohammed Amin, the Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, says he will resign after 36 years in the Conservative Party, if Johnson becomes Prime Minister.
Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, was in second place, and Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, in third, but all this can change with the second vote on 18 June. The three dropouts and Matt Hancock’s withdrawal amount to 50 votes that will be redistributed amongst the remaining six candidates, and it is possible others may change their affiliation after the first hustings on 17 June.
After the ten candidates launched their campaigns this week, only Johnson and Rory Stewart, International Aid Secretary, made a momentous impact. Stewart for his confident launch in a circus tent and his audacious campaign to avoid No Deal and provocative niggling at Johnson. It looks like Stewart is trying to shed his old Etonian handicap and presenting himself directly to the public. He is perceived as adventurous and trustworthy. Labour and LibDems voters are also attracted to him.
Hunt is a soft Brexit man, presenting himself as the only successful entrepreneur candidate. He has Liam Fox, Amber Rudd, Penny Mordaunt and Alan Duncan in his stable. Michael Gove and Sajid Javid, Home Secretary, both have appealing back stories; Gove was adopted at four months old, went to Grammar School and then to Oxford. His efficacy is respected in the ministries he has previously led Justice and Education; but Gove is handicapped by the timely revelation that he had indulged in cocaine whilst a journalist. He is not the only one to have taken a drug related risk. Johnson, Hunt and Dominic Raab have all allegedly dabbled with something or other.
Javid, a likeable and no doubt a clever man, aspires to be “Tomorrow’s Leader”. Like Gove he will not rule out delaying Brexit, but his launch was harmless and the news is filled with Javid’s signing the US request for Julian Assange’s extradition and how he was not invited to the state dinner for President Donald Trump.
Corbyn with Labour MPs and Oliver Letwin, a Tory Remainer, ganged up against the Conservative Party with a motion to take over Parliament on 25 June to stop a No Deal possibility, in spite of ten Tory rebels voting for the motion the House of Commons voted 309 to 298 to reject the idea.
Brexit and election shenanigans have given the SNP another opportunity to proselytise for Scottish independence. Philip Hammond, Chancellor, has said he will not serve in a Cabinet that has no deal as an option. Theresa May has confirmed she will continue as a backbench MP. From there she can give the new PM as good as she got at the despatch box. It is undesirable but not unthinkable that UK will have another general election before May/June 2022. The Nigel Farage Brexit Party (26%) is comfortably ahead of the Conservatives (17%) in the YouGov latest poll. On Tuesday, reaching beyond the Tory MPs, who will get him onto the final ballot, Johnson will take on the other candidates in a BBC televised hustings.