A sure fire sign of chicanery and delusion during the warm up for a Tory leadership race is an off the record briefing from “friends” or “allies” of someone who fancies their chances. Their candidate has had, it will be reported, “dozens” of people on the phone asking, begging them even, to run for the leadership for the sake of the country.
This is always rubbish. If you are a serious contender you just are. You don’t need to let it be known that people are phoning you up. Anyway, no-one takes “dozens” of calls about themselves. The lives of busy people don’t work like that. One or two deranged MPs might have phoned up to say that “everyone” (that is code meaning them alone and possibly their cat) is saying their chosen trainee leader should run. But that’s about it.
The giveaway that the leadership chances of Boris are, for now, completely stuffed was the briefing the weekend after the election that he was fending off dozens of calls urging him to run. It was desperate “look at me” behaviour just at the moment when the Tory tribe decided that really, all things considered, a challenging moment for the country was not the time to try the Boris experiment.
And so, it is now reported that “dozens” of Tory MPs are urging Andrea Leadsom to run for the Conservative leadership.
Hmmm… call me sceptical.
Making Andrea Leadsom Tory leader and Prime Minister was a truly terrible idea a year ago when the country had not heard of her. It is an even worse idea now that Leadsom is widely known.
As Reaction was the first to reveal last summer, there were serious doubts about Leadsom’s suitability. The “Andrea got to the top of the City” line from the Leadsomites was nonsense. There was also a good deal of projection going on among element of the Tory right, living out a Thatcher Mark II fantasy, in which they all hoped to get jobs re-enacting the 1980s to go with their 1980s haircuts.
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Leadsom’s candidacy was then sunk by Rachel Sylvester asking her questions and then reporting the results. Leadsom withdrew and May got the job. Now, it seems Andrea Leadsom fancies another shot when the succession race begins.
There is one reason to make her Theresa May’s successor, however. It would certainly unite a divided country. Across Britain, in every nation and region, across the mainstream, nationalist and unionist, people of all colours, and beyond the Tory right (an increasingly small grouping) there would be horror mingled with incredulity and hysterical laughter. Expressing astonishment is something we could all unite behind.