Cascade Commentary

Johnson leads as Conservatives whittle down candidates in Leadership contest

June 2019

The Conservative party have announced the results of their third ballot where Boris Johnson has secured over 45% of the current vote, leaving four candidates in the race.

The final ten candidates in the Tory Leadership race were announced on 10th June 2019 with the first leadership ballot held on 13th June 2019. In order to participate, each candidate requires an initial proposer, a seconder and the support of at least six other members.

The ten candidates were as follows:

  1. Environment Secretary, Michael Gove;
  2. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock;
  3. Former Chief Whip, Mark Harper;
  4. Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt;
  5. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid;
  6. Former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson;
  7. Former Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom;
  8. Former Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey;
  9. Former Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab;
  10. International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart.

Each of the ten candidates hopes to gain the confidence of the Conservative party, and in doing so, needs to convince voting members of their ability to win a general election, which in turn will require a reasonable plan for the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

In the first ballot, Hancock, Harper, Leadsom and McVey failed to secure enough votes and were forced out of the race. They were joined by Dominic Raab in the second ballot and Rory Stewart in the third. That leaves frontrunner Boris Johnson alongside Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid with the results of a fourth ballot expected to be announced on 20th June 2019. 

Once the party has reached the final two candidates, the final vote will be held across all party members in a postal ballot, including those at a grassroots level. The outcome of this vote will determine the next Prime Minister of the UK and Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson remains favourite with the latest odds at 1/8 followed by Jeremy Hunt at 12/1.

It is expected that Johnson will compete against Hunt in this postal ballot. Johnson has been frontrunner since the contest began as a hard Brexiteer following his lead of the Leave campaign in 2016. Hunt on the other hand has gained momentum after Gove’s cocaine use was revealed as well as support from key cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt. His campaign has set out to position him as the wiser choice in comparison with Johnson although his intent to renegotiate with Brussels may leave him in a similar position as May given Europe’s previous communications.  

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously called for an immediate general election in the aftermath of the new appointment while Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed her concerns at the prospect of an even more hardline Brexit path now being adopted with the potential for a very concerning "No Deal". 

We'll keep you updated on the latest news as the Conservative leadership contest continues. 

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