Choosing the next Conservative Party leader

I am NOT a member of the Conservative Party and, while I can give an opinion that may influence a (very) few, I have no say in who that leader is to be. Even though I like to see myself as a political neutral, albeit an ardent Brexiteer, I lament the lack of leadership across all parties, because good leadership leads to good outcomes that help us all, and imho as far as the Conservatives go, ever since Maggie went those who took on the leadership mantle weren’t all that good.

Regarding the above meme, these represent the candidates who up to a day ago had put their hats in the ring for the contest to elect the next leader and their voting record on Brexit related matters. These are Steve Baker, Priti Patel, BoJo, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Kit Malthouse, James Cleverly, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart. And if one were a hardened Brexiteer the only two to tick all the boxes are: Steve Baker and Priti Patel, which is to some extent a shame as there should be a lot more to leading the Conservative Party than having the right views concerning Brexit and how to break the political impasse the country now finds itself in. The problem I face if I were to venture an opinion as to the best choice is the candidates I do know, I don’t like and don’t appear to have got it right regarding Brexit, and candidates I don’t know I can’t endorse until I know more. In stating the obvious, there are many other issues I want to know their views on, which I have raised in my recent blog posts.

It happened today I came across a Sun article, while I was having breakfast in a local café, titled: “The Tory Catch 22. We can’t face an election before Brexit. But we may not get Brexit without an election”. The author, euro skeptic Daniel Hannon, is one of the four recently returned Conservative MEPs. I also recall listening to him around the time of the EU referendum sharing his views and concluding “he gets it”. I had the same impression today as I read his carefully argued and thought provoking case why right now the Conservatives find themselves in an unenviable catch 22 situation. He starts by setting out his case: “Here’s the Conservative quandary. We can’t face the electorate before leaving the EU. But we might not be able to leave the EU without an election“.

He raises the possibilities of Parliament not reaching a decision and we just leave, one of our EU partners doing us a favour or an electoral pact with the Brexit Party if an election is needed to get a Brexit deal Parliament approves. But his conclusion was rather depressing: “Or maybe there’s another way out of the jam, one I can’t think of. But what cannot be denied is that the dilemma exists. There is no point in saying “Just leave!” or “I’ll get us a better deal!” unless you are clear about how you intend to do it. The trouble is that, in the current mood, those are precisely the slogans that many Tory activists want to hear. The candidate who levels with them, who sets out the dilemma honestly and outlines a proposed route out of it, may become unelectable. As I say, Catch-22”.

Like the way this whole Brexit business will pan out, how the deep divisions in the country over Brexit can be resolved, we watch with interest developments these next few weeks over the Conservative Party Leadership. Those who vote: the Parliamentary MPs and then the party membership when it comes down to the final two have a unenviable task and given the odds favour the candidates I like less it does not bode all that well hope wise, but who knows what will happen these next few weeks. I know whoever becomes leader will have a huge job to deliver on Brexit etc., and will need our prayers.

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