Quote of the week
‘I am personally pining for Big Ben’s bongs’
For a candidate who had recently admitting taking cannabis, this was a brave way for Andrea Leadsom to talk about parliament’s refurbishment.
Tweet of the week
‘Could be worse…’
Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls has his say over whether “Hancock Out” is an appropriate headline for the end of Matt Hancock’s leadership bid.
Endorsement of the week
Kit Malthouse and James Cleverly both backed Boris Johnson. The pair had been so impressed with his skills during their time working with him as London mayor that they both initially ran against him for the leadership.
It’s still unclear what had made them nervous about a man who commissioned buses without windows and a cable car that has fewer users than Johnson’s estuary airport, which was never actually built.
Before any crucial EU talks, it was surely his negotiating skills that convinced them. Who could deny his credentials, having bought three water cannon from Germany, refurbished them, and sold them for scrap at a £300,000 loss? That should put Angela Merkel on notice.
Theme of the week
No deal. The Tory leadership race has often resembled a battle to replace the captain of the Titanic halfway through its maiden voyage.
Yet this spectacle now has another unlikely twist, with contenders openly cheering on the iceberg. Yes, a willingness to embrace a no-deal Brexit has become an essential part of any candidate’s armoury – in this case, in the form of a gun pointing straight at the country’s temples.
Dom Raab and Johnson have their revolvers primed. Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove just want it lying casually on the desk at EU talks. That just leaves Rory Stewart, the only contender sane enough to rule out no deal. But in this catch-22 contest, if you’re sane, you’ll never be leader.
Gaffe of the week
Asked about her past misdemeanours, Leadsom admitted: “I may have occasionally cycled on a pavement as a child.” Her pathetic rap sheet made her bid for Downing St look laughable.
Taking class A drugs is the bare minimum for any serious contender. Frontrunners really need to have discussed beating up a journalist and, ideally, imperilled a British citizen held captive abroad. Come back when you’ve robbed a bank or two, Andrea.
Campaign of the week
No one could have failed to be captivated by Mark Harper’s bid for No 10, but just in case, let’s recap. Spontaneity wasn’t a strong suit. At his launch, Harper insisted: “This isn’t going to be that scripted.” Unfortunately, that was one of several lines pre-released to the media. His Twitter game seemed strong, asking social media users to “Ask Me Anything”. Several people used the opportunity to ask an urgent query: “Who are you?”
Then there was his launch event, which featured the slogan: “Promising, Delivering, Brexit.” Except, there was a pink line through “promising”. Was it highlighted? Was it crossed out? Was he having the decency to renege on his Brexit pledge immediately, saving us the bother of the inevitable implosion? It still isn’t clear. At the end of all this, Harper’s bid ended in inexplicable failure.
Purveyors of canned goods
Stock up the larder. Ready the tins of fruit cocktail. The leadership race is making no-deal Brexit more likely.
Having made her dislike of former colleague Esther McVey clear, the daytime TV queen spoke for the nation, saying she was “sick to the back teeth of the whole toxic political atmosphere”. Next week, Anthea Turner on the housing crisis.
Several hustings have been held in private, meaning the success or otherwise of the candidates has been mediated to the press via their supporters (“Jeremy was amazing, better than Churchill. People were weeping! You had to be there…”). Never one to let sunshine in on magic, Johnson continues to lie low, having been Sellotaped to a chair in Lynton Crosby’s basement.
The candidate markets
UP: Michael Gove, Rory Stewart
After his cocaine admission, his team have managed to draw a line under the issue. Stewart’s walking tour of Britain saw the outsider secure enough support to carry on rambling.
DOWN (and out): Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper, Esther McVey
So long. See you for the next contest later this year? Just so you don’t forget him, that’s Matt Hancock pictured left.