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The Spectator podcast: The Tory leadership contest turns nasty

30 June 2016

8:01 AM

30 June 2016

8:01 AM

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A week after Britain backed Brexit, politics shows no sign of slowing down. David Cameron has resigned, Michael Gove has pulled out of Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign before launching his own. And Boris has decided not to run in the contest. We now have a final slate of five candidates vying for the top job. In his Spectator cover piece this week, James Forsyth says the Tory party is in a ‘deeply emotional state’. But he also points out that the leadership candidates who have emerged ‘seem strangely united in their vision for post-Brexit Britain’. So can a new leader help the Conservatives – and the country – put itself back together again? And who will come out on top? On this updated version of this week’s podcast, James is joined by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson and Isabel Hardman. Discussing his cover piece, James says:

‘I think the Conservative party is very emotionally divided between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’. There have been ‘Remain’ MPs in tears as they talk about the referendum result. There have been emails sent by ‘Remain’ MPs to ‘Leave’ MPs saying ‘You’ve unleashed forces that you can’t control’. Some MPs are still worried that ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ MPs are still meeting in separate groups. But what I think is fascinating about this contest is that there is actually broad intellectual agreement about what the Tory party should be about’.

So, given the current divides between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ Tory MPs, should the winning Tory leadership candidate be someone who backed Brexit? Fraser Nelson thinks so. He tells Isabel:

‘This leadership election is precipitated by Britain voting for Brexit. It seems very odd that the Prime Minister should quit because he didn’t believe in Brexit only to be succeeded by someone who doesn’t believe in Brexit.’

But it’s not only the Tory party in the midst of a leadership battle. Jeremy Corbyn is still clinging on, despite a vote of no confidence by Labour MPs in their party leader. Corbyn has so far resisted calls to go – including from the Prime Minister. So amidst this turmoil, what’s next for Labour? And will this row split the party for good? Talking through Labour’s woes on the podcast are Nick Cohen and Ayesha Hazarika, former senior Labour party advisor. Nick tells Isabel:

‘If you look at Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Seumas Milne, they think they don’t but they actually have an awful lot in common with Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. They are essentially frivolous people. Just as the Tories have thrown us into a massive constitutional crisis without the faintest idea what to do, so, too, (have these people) on the left. These people say they hate the Tories, they don’t: they don’t even think about the Tories. What they hate is their own party and they will bring the roof down, they will bring the house down.’

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