[Updated below 21.45] This a time for all would be forecasters t0 get it right in the money.
Dr Liam Fox will be first out tonight.
Of the others, It is hard to imagine that:
- May will not win by a mile – experience and judgment are an imperative right now;
- Leadsom, will not come second – known to all as ‘a mum’ [a reductive populism – what’s wrong with ‘mother’, with its mythical status?] and giving the most self-satisfied launch speech , garlanded with smiles at each round of applause from her clustered right wing supporters;
- Gove will not come third – it might have been fourth but the ambitious and underexperienced Stephen Crabb does not seem to be adding much support to his initial figures.
Fox has been Defence Secretary for about eighteen months after the May 2010 UK General Election – but his tenure was marked by his disastrous Strategic Defence and Security Review that saw the British army decimated; the two new aircraft carriers left without the Sea Harrier aircraft; and with the reserve carrier, HMS Invincible withdrawn and sent for scrap early in 2011.
The over ambitious and underimpressive Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, was wise not to stand. She has been wildly over-praised by the desperate Michael Gove – who has to sound as if the one cabinet minister publicly supporting him is of some substance.
This was indeed the running order of the first ballot and Liam Fox was duly eliminated. He has thown his unequivocal support behind Theresa May
However, Stephen Crabb has chosen to withdraw and to back Theresa May, saying that she is the only candidate who can unite the party and the country; and that he will campaign for her.
This means that this Thursday’s [7th July 2016] second ballot is likely to see the field reduced to the predictable two – May and Leadsom – to be sent to the party membership vote for the final decision.
Another Cabinet Minister, Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, has declared support for Theresa May.
Michael Gove has declared that he will absolutely not be standing down; and that he is a far better Brexit representative than is Andrea Leadsom, having believed in a British withdrawal from Europe ‘for decades’, as opposed to ‘three years’ – an unveiled reference to Andrea Leadsome.
Gove would seem here to be running true to form.
Part of his complaint against Boris Johnson – offered in defence of his scheming shafting of the most famous blonde in British politics- was that the two Brexit campaign front men had agreed to give Andrea Leadsome the top jobs she had asked for – Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the exit negotiations [no less – and with no cabinet experience to support these ambitions]; and that Boris had ‘betrayed’ her by not taking care to put this agreement in writing to her by the time she had requested it.
Gove’s fond care for Mrs Leadsome’s ambitions does not seem to run beyond the borders of his own interests, since he is so ready to snipe at her in this way. Boris Johnson’s sister, the journalist Rachel Johnson, who called Gove a ‘political psychopath’, would seem to have the right of it.