Newslinks for Saturday 15th June 2019

Leadership 1) Secret plan for Johnson to be unopposed in “confirmatory” membership vote

“Boris Johnson’s name could be the only one that goes forward to the party’s membership in the Conservative leadership election under a secret plan to avoid four weeks of damaging Tory bloodletting. Senior Cabinet ministers who are not linked to any of the six contenders in the campaign are examining whether Mr Johnson’s name alone might forward to a “confirmatory” vote of the party’s 160,000 members. The plan was hatched in the whips office…Under the proposal the remaining candidates would bow out late next week in favour of Mr Johnson, who has built a seemingly unassailable lead among MPs and grassroots Tories, before party members voted a single question – whether they want Mr Johnson to be leader. The biggest hurdle is to convince Brandon Lewis, the party’s chairman, to back the plan. He is determined to carry out the party’s wish for candidates to be grilled by members over 16 hustings events in every region of the UK over a four week period starting in Birmingham next Saturday, June 22.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The view from Canterbury – The Times
  • Tory Muslim activist compares Johnson to Hitler – The Sun
  • Johnson haters have lost the plot, but voters must see him scrutinised – Leader, The Sun

>Today:

Leadership 2) Three contenders pledge to bring in legally binding clean air targets

“Three Conservative leadership hopefuls pledge today to give people the legal right to breathe clean air as one of their first acts as prime minister. Backing this newspaper’s campaign for a Clean Air Act, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Rory Stewart all promise to bring in legally binding air quality targets in their first Queen’s Speech. The commitment will raise pressure on the other candidates to support new laws as part of their campaigns to lead the country. The UN’s most senior public health official warned politicians that they could find themselves facing criminal charges for failing to protect citizens from air pollution. Maria Neira compared the issue to the asbestos scandal of the 1970s, in which governments were accused of having failed to act quickly enough despite knowing the risks.” – The Times

Leadership 3) Hancock withdraws from the contest

“Matt Hancock has withdrawn from the Conservative party leadership race, after receiving the support of just 20 MPs in the first round of voting. The health secretary was the youngest candidate and presented himself as the moderate “fresh face” to widen the party’s appeal, particularly among Liberal Democrat voters. But his campaign team concluded he did not have enough support among Tory MPs to make it through the next round of voting on Tuesday. “I’m hugely grateful for the warm and enthusiastic support I’ve received throughout this campaign, and am proud of the way we managed to set the agenda by promoting new ideas to make people’s lives better,” Mr Hancock said in a statement.” – Financial Times

  • Hancock in talks with all six remaining candidates – The Sun

>Yesterday: MPsETC: “I ran as the candidate of the future”. Hancock withdraws from the leadership race.

Leadership 4) Johnson agrees to take part in BBC TV debate

“Boris Johnson has said he will take part in Tuesday’s televised Tory leadership debate on the BBC. The frontrunner in the contest to replace Theresa May said the programme, which will be shown after the second round of MPs’ voting, was the right forum to debate the big issues. Rival candidates have accused Mr Johnson of avoiding media scrutiny. He said he was “very keen” on TV debates but viewers might not like too much “blue-on-blue action”. Mr Johnson, however, will not be taking part in Sunday’s debate on Channel 4, with his team reportedly having reservations about its proposed format.” – BBC

  • Senior Tories plot to expose Johnson as a liar – The Sun
  • Channel 4 to ’empty chair’ him – The Guardian
  • Debating Boris – Leader, The Times

>Today: LISTEN: ConHome’s Tory leadership election podcast. Will Tuesday’s BBC debate see Stewart confront Johnson?

Leadership 5) Raab pledges to extend right to buy to housing association tenants

“Dominic Raab on Friday night vowed to give a million tenants the chance to buy their home as he sought to breathe new life into his campaign. The Tory leadership contender said one of his first acts as PM would be to fulfil the pledge made in 2015 to extend ‘Right to Buy’ to housing association residents.Ex-PM David Cameron vowed to widen the scheme introduced for council house tenants four years ago – but the Government only ever carried out a pilot scheme in the Midlands. Mr Raab said this meant housing association tenants were missing out on potential discounts of up to £115,000.” – The Sun

  • He predicts Tory members will turn their backs on the “privileged elite” vying for power – Daily Telegraph

Leadership 6) Eurocrats predict October 31st deadline will be abandoned

“European Union negotiators do not believe Boris Johnson’s Tory leadership promise to deliver Brexit by October 31, according to senior Brussels sources. Political planning in Brussels is now based on the assumption that Britain will not leave the EU on the present deadline, itself an extension from the original date of March 29. Senior EU sources, including those in contact with UK officials, believe Mr Johnson is the most likely next prime minister and will “give a serious try to getting a new deal”, as he has pledged. “Even the boldest prime minister for a no-deal will have to demonstrate he has had one serious try and that means an extension,” said a senior EU official. “Johnson will want to last more than ten days in power so will need to try getting it over the line. He, or whoever it is, will not be able to hide the need for an extension”. Because of the tight timetable it is unlikely that formal negotiations will open until October, only allowing a few weeks to conclude a deal that has so far eluded negotiators for over two years.” – The Times

  • My mad first week in Brussels as a Brexit Party MEP – John Longworth, Daily Telegraph
  • Wetherspoons boss warns: “Don’t dare dream of more Brexit negotiations” – Daily Express
  • DUP right to be wary of Boris Johnson becoming PM – Suzanne Breen, Belfast Telegraph

Leadership 7) Oborne: Candidates should not be spending £150,000 on their campaigns

“When John Major ran for the Tory leadership after the political assassination of Margaret Thatcher, he had no big financial backers behind his campaign. He borrowed a basement flat near Westminster, installed some phones and his team set to work. John Major after retaining his parliamentary seat in 1997. In the current leadership contest, each of the candidates is allowed to spend up to £150,000 on slick videos, private polling, literature and other promotional stunts. One has to ask: who is paying for it all? I fear the answer is very rich men and corporations who, as night follows day, will demand a return on their investment…It brings the Conservative Party into disrepute. And it should play no part in our political processes.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

Leadership 8) Moore: The Tory survival instinct has finally kicked in

“Now that it has called a leadership election, the Conservative Party is rediscovering its famous survival instinct. After the Brexit Party’s result in the European elections, it has become obvious to all but the most refined and highly educated minds that the Tories will make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister by Christmas if they do not deliver Brexit. So they seem to be deciding to follow democratic logic. That logic, like it or not, is Boris Johnson…Dominic Raab is a man of high intelligence and commitment to the Brexit cause, but it does not follow that he is also the right leader. One sees him as the man to master the detail rather than to sweep the country. None of the other would-be leaders left in the race seems truly to want Brexit. So none can do the job.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Leadership 9) Parris: It’s not a done deal – the membership will ask tough questions

“A recent survey on the Tory activists’ website Conservative Home suggests Johnson has (at present) the support of roughly half the membership, and I think that’s probably right. What the survey cannot tell us about is the depth of lurking doubts in the minds of present supporters, and the propensity of the remainder of those surveyed to vote for an anyone-but-Boris challenger. A Huffington Post poll, meanwhile, suggests that Johnson is failing to get through to younger and undecided voters: Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart score much better. I conclude that a convinced, energetic, eloquent but intellectually serious campaign among the Tory grassroots next month could yet unseat the favourite. Unbeatable among his cowardly and preferment-seeking parliamentary colleagues, he remains beatable among the real grown-ups: the national membership of the Conservative Party.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • Is Rory Stewart about to give the Tory party its Emmanuel Macron moment? – Daniel Capurro, Daily Telegraph

Leadership 10) Mordaunt: To deliver Brexit we need a Conservative consensus

“The next Leader must deliver unity and Brexit fast and well. So why are staunch leavers like myself and Liam Fox backing Jeremy Hunt?…To deliver Brexit we need to find a consensus in the party. We must not end up with further division by just reinforcing factions in the party, Parliament or the country. We must use this time to map out a plan, persuade others of it, signal both our resolve and our ideas to Brussels, and reassure those worried about the future why they should be confident. In order to leave with a deal, we need to take the majority with us. This is as true for Brexit as it is for the next General Election. This contest is not about the next man, it’s about the next majority. To secure that majority we need Jeremy Hunt.” – Penny Mordaunt, Daily Mail

>Today: Interviews: Hunt interview: “I’m clearly second-placed now to Boris, and ready to argue that we have better choices as a country than he is offering.”

Leadership 11) McVey “poised to back Johnson”

“Some supporters of Home Secretary Mr Javid, who came fifth, are urging him to do a deal with Mr Johnson to become Chancellor. However, one senior MP in Mr Javid’s camp dismissed the idea – telling MailOnline that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt taking on Mr Johnson would be a ‘quasi University Challenge final’….Esther McVey is widely expected to endorse Mr Johnson and urge her nine backers to follow suit. Mark Harper’s tally of 10 looks set to fragment across the campaigns.” – Daily Mail

Leadership 12) Hammond says only two candidates have pledged to hold down the National Debt

“The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has revealed that just two of the remaining contenders for the Conservative party leadership have so far accepted his challenge and pledged to work to keep down Britain’s national debt. Hammond, who sought assurances after becoming alarmed by the spending promises being made by Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, disclosed that he had received private commitments from two campaigns. “I believe that fiscal responsibility is one of the unique selling points of my party,” Hammond said as he arrived at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg….“A couple of the candidates have signalled privately that they will be signing up to the pledge but I’m waiting to see what we get back.” The chancellor wrote to the leadership hopefuls on Thursday asking them to maintain the current limit of the deficit at 2% of GDP “at least through 2021-22”, as he sought to block a tax and spend arms race.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Conservative leadership election. Candidates’ polices – full list

May “reinvigorated” and working on her legacy

“Yet the prime minister herself looks revitalised. “I haven’t seen Theresa May this happy since she became prime minister,” an aide said. “The D-Day anniversary and the Trump visit were Theresa at her best. She knows what to say on set occasions: it’s like the vicarage fete, all platitudes and gratitude.” After a premiership consumed by Brexit, Mrs May is determined finally to tackle the domestic agenda that she identified on becoming leader, when she talked about the “burning injustices” in society, rather than spend her last days as a forlorn caretaker. Those around her were stung by the Private Eye front page headlined “Theresa May’s legacy in full” — it was completely blank. With only weeks to go in Downing Street, the prime minister is determined to secure her inheritance to balance out her failure to take Britain out of the European Union.” – Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, The Times

>Yesterday: Comment: ConHome’s leadership election panel. “May’s successors deserve better than a lame duck PM half-emptying the fiscal cupboard.”

Corbyn challenges claims that Iran is responsible for oil tanker attacks

“Jeremy Corbyn has questioned whether the government has “credible evidence” to show Iran is behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said responsibility “almost certainly” lies with the Iranian regime. But the Labour leader tweeted that the UK should ease tensions in the region, not fuel a military escalation. The explosions on Thursday came in the Gulf of Oman – a strategic waterway crucial to global energy supplies. It is the second time in the past few weeks that tankers appear to have been attacked in the region and comes amid escalating tension between Iran and the United States. The US military released video footage which it said proved Iran was behind the blasts – something Iran has categorically denied.” – BBC

Umunna “could be future Leader of the Lib Dems”

“Sir Vince Cable has suggested that Chuka Umunna could lead the Liberal Democrats one day, amid claims from party insiders that the former Labour MP has “set himself up for the next leadership race”.  Unveiling his party’s new MP at a press conference yesterday, Sir Vince praised Mr Umunna as a “big political figure” who had the “leadership potential” necessary to run in the future. Whilst he insisted that Ed Davey and Jo Swinson were “excellent candidates” to replace him when he steps down next month, he acknowledged that Mr Umunna was one of several “good people coming through the ranks” for a contest further down the line.” – Daily Telegraph

Scottish Conservatives criticise methadone use for heroin addicts

“Calls have been made to change the way heroin addiction in Scotland is treated after it was revealed the methadone substitute given to users has been responsible for more than 4,000 hospital admissions over the last two decades. Research by the Scottish Conservatives found there were 4,479 hospital admissions caused by methadone since records began in the mid-1990s. Last year 222 users were admitted to hospital after overdosing on the heroin-replacement substance. But the Scottish Government insisted that opioid substitution therapy (OST) was a treatment with a strong evidence base and was supported by experts across Europe. Tory public health spokeswoman Annie Wells said the official statistics proved the need to find better ways to treat heroin addicts north of the Border. The MSP has called for alternative treatments for users in Scotland, rather than “parking them” on a substance like methadone which she believes “offers no real hope of recovery”. “Methadone is meant to help heroin addicts – but now we learn it has hospitalised thousands in recent years,” she said.” – The Scotsman

Patten: Our duty to Hong Kong

“Governments around the world – particularly Britain – should make our views clear about what is happening. And the government in Hong Kong and its masters in Beijing should realise how much damage will be done to Hong Kong if it continues to think it can brazen things out, turning to tear gas and rubber bullets to get its way…As the former sovereign power, Britain has a debt of honour to Hong Kong. I hope that does not sound too old-fashioned a concept these days. For China, what is at stake is whether in future the rest of the world will be able to trust it to keep its word. If it breaks its commitment to Hong Kong, where else can it be trusted? Sometimes it is difficult to avoid the rather gloomy thought that we are seeing the emergence of a superpower that does not believe in individual human rights. So much for the China dream.” – Chris Patten, The Guardian

News in brief

  • Conservatives cannot afford to shy away from the culture war – Tim Dawson, CapX
  • The post-Brexit opportunities and challenges for UK agriculture – Shanker Singham, Brexit Central
  • The Top 10 fictional prime ministers – John Rentoul, Independent
  • The BBC is forcing the elderly to subsidise its broken business model – Harry Phibbs, The Article
  • Can anyone stop Johnson becoming prime minister? – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator

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Author: Conservative Home


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