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Coffee House Steerpike

Who is the busiest Tory leadership candidate of them all?

17 April 2019

5:08 PM

17 April 2019

5:08 PM

Tory MPs agree that Theresa May’s days in Downing Street are numbered, but when it comes to picking her replacement things aren’t quite as clear. Ever since May’s third bungled bid to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament at the end of last month, the Tory leadership race has heated up. Boris Johnson remains the bookies’ favourite, closely followed by Sajid Javid. But it can be a dangerous thing being a frontrunner in a leadership contest. So could an outsider like Dominic Raab – who alluded to his status as a dark horse in a recent tweet – end up triumphing?

Another danger for any candidate is not being ready when the starting gun goes off. So who is determined not to get caught snoozing? Mr Steerpike investigates who has been the busiest out of these potential leadership candidates over the last few weeks.

Boris Johnson:

Boris Johnson has been stepping up his campaign recently, improving his image by losing weight and opting for a smarter haircut. Boris, who has been seen to lack support among Tory MPs, is also attempting to win over his colleagues by wining and dining them – despite the diet. His weekly column in the Daily Telegraph also gives him an advantage over his colleagues in firing up Brexiteers. But Boris has been noticeably quiet compared to his competitors when it comes to giving interviews or making speeches about what he would actually do if he does make it to Downing Street.

Busyness Rating: 6/10

MP popularity rating: 4/10

Membership popularity rating: 9/10

Bookies Odds: 9/2 (Skybet)

Sajid Javid:

Sajid Javid is an early frontrunner in the race to replace May. The Home Secretary has also been one of the busiest of the pack. Since the 29th March, when Parliament again voted down the PM’s deal, he has popped up almost daily. That same day he announced the EU Settlement Scheme aimed at protecting the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK. A few days later on the 3th April, he won more positive coverage for the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Next, he appeared in the news again on 8th April to promote a bid to keep kids safe online.

His most public intervention has been a thinly-veiled leadership pitch this week. Speaking at a disused pickle factory on Monday, Javid outlined his vision for Britain and tackling crime in his most obvious positioning manoeuvre of late. Mr S can’t help but notice that Javid has been up to more than his fair share of ‘scheming’.

Busyness rating: 8.5/10

MP popularity rating: 6/10

Membership popularity rating: 7/10

Bookies odds: 12/1 (Skybet)

Jeremy Hunt:

The Foreign Secretary is determined to present himself as the grown up in the room. While his efforts haven’t been quite as impressive as Javid’s, Hunt has been popping up almost as frequently. On April 5th, Hunt – in partnership with Amal Clooney – announced a global campaign to defend media freedom in the wake of a recent trend of violence against journalists. And Hunt popped up in Japan this week to explain Brexit to schoolkids (and in doing so win himself plenty of coverage in the media). His clearest bid for the top job came on the Today programme on Monday when he took a pop at Boris: “There is one very big difference between Boris Johnson and me and that is that I am Foreign Secretary and have a big job to do.”

If one thing is certain about this contest, it is clear that it is only a matter of time before things turn nasty.

Busyness rating: 7/10

MP popularity rating: 8/10

Membership popularity rating: 7/10 

Bookies odds: 6/1 (Skybet)

Dominic Raab:

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary has also been on manoeuvres. At the beginning of the month, Raab wrote a column for the Mail on Sunday warning Theresa May of the dangers of reaching out to Corbyn to get the withdrawal agreement through. In doing so he almost certainly had one eye on wooing Tory MPs who are apprehensive about the PM working with the Labour leader.

Last Saturday in the Telegraph, Raab was at it again, outlining his vision for Britain if he makes it to No.10. His pitch certainly ticked plenty of boxes for a future Tory leader: tackling the problem of getting young voters to vote Conservative; championing the importance of home-ownership. It was a Dominic Raab manifesto in all but name. But Raab wants it to be known that he has a softer side too. This week, Raab took to Twitter to speculate about who would sit on the Iron Throne in the hit TV series Game of Thrones. In the tweet Raab said “it’s never the favourite”; Mr Steerpike is no GoT fan, but it certainly sounds like a strong allusion to his chances in the impending Tory leadership contest.

Busyness rating: 8/10

MP popularity rating: 7/10

Membership popularity rating: 6/10

Bookies odds: 6/1 (Skybet)

Amber Rudd:

Amber Rudd seems almost certain to chuck her hat into the ring when the time comes for a leadership fight. The Secretary for Work and Pensions told the BBC it was “entirely possible” that she might run to succeed Theresa May. So that’s a yes then. Rudd is certain to pick up support among Tory remainers, but can she do the same among Brexiteers? She has got her work cut out trying to win them over.

Busyness rating: 7.5/10

MP popularity rating: 8/10

Membership popularity rating: 5/10

Bookies odds: 33/1 (Skybet)

Matt Hancock:

Matt Hancock is the keenest candidate vying for the top job. The health secretary has given a speech outlining his more optimistic vision for the Conservatives. Hancock also recently received a boost after being endorsed by health minister and former party vice chairman for London, Stephen Hammond, who backed him as the man to unite both sides of the party. Hancock, the only candidate with his own app, is somewhat of a dark horse. Considered part of the next generation – and relatively untainted by Brexit – it would be foolish to rule Hancock out. But could a leadership fight come to soon for him to triumph?

Busyness rating: 5/10

MP popularity rating: 7/10

Membership popularity rating: 6/10

Bookies odds: 12/1 (Skybet)

Liz Truss:

The chief Secretary to the Treasury has also been busy lately. On April 7th she appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to criticise the idea of a flexible extension as a purgatory. That warning will not have done her any harm among Tory members. It has also been hard to escape Truss in the media, where she has lined up to give interviews with various outlets. Last week, she popped up in The Spectator to put forward her vision for the party, outlining the benefits of tax cuts, digital upstarts and scrapping HS2. Truss has been busy trying to get publicity for her ideas about the direction of the party and has made ample use of Instagram and Twitter in order to get her modern agenda across. When it comes to the social media game, Truss has been the busiest of the lot – but will that make a difference when it comes to actually picking up votes among her colleagues in Parliament?

Busyness rating: 7/10

MP popularity rating: 7/10

Membership popularity rating: 7.5/10

Bookies odds: 50/1 (Skybet)

Johnny Mercer:

Johnny Mercer, another rising star of the Conservative party, has similarly been busy in continuing to rally up support for his own leadership bid. On April 2nd Mercer spoke at an event held by the Conservative lawyers association where he pushed for “overdue change” in the Tory party. Mercer has also been busy working the think tank circuit in Westminster. Last Thursday, Mercer spoke at a Conservative event hosted by the CSJ in which he labelled the current administration as “pretty poor”. Mercer has certainly spoken at more events than other leadership candidates. But while he is good at diagnosing the Tories’ problems, has he got any solutions?

Busyness rating: 9/10

MP popularity rating: 6/10

Membership popularity rating: 8/10

Bookies odds: 18/1 (Skybet)


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