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Javid survives Tory race

Johnson on top again; Brexiteer Raab out of contention

By Amit Roy in London
  • Published 19.06.19, 1:34 AM
  • Updated 19.06.19, 1:34 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Boris Johnson gets in a car as he leaves his home in south London on Tuesday Picture by AP

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, lives to fight another day by getting 33 votes in the second ballot in the Tory election contest, 33 being the minimum number required to stay in the race.

Boris Johnson came top as expected with 126 votes, followed by the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt (46); the environment secretary Michael Gove (41); and Rory Stewart, the international development secretary (37), who has pulled up significantly since the first round.

The former Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab (30), who came below the 33 vote threshold, is knocked out of the race.

In the first round of voting last week, Boris got 114 votes, followed by Hunt (43), Gove (37), Raab (27), Javid (23) and Stewart (19). Javid, the state educated son of a Pakistani bus driver, had urged colleagues to back him to prevent the contest looking like “a debate at the Oxford Union”.

The home secretary, the only candidate in the second round not to have gone to Oxford University, said it would not be “healthy” for the party if all the candidates left in the contest had similar backgrounds.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we end up in a situation where the final two, three, four even, are people from similar backgrounds with similar life experiences, it will look like a debate at the Oxford Union and I just don’t think that’s healthy for the Tory Party.”

Javid joked that his style was “less Homer’s Iliad and more Homer Simpson”.

Boris’s supporters think the person he will find easiest to defeat is Hunt because of the nuanced line he takes on Brexit. There are conspiracy theories that Boris will “lend” him some votes in subsequent rounds to ensure he eventually emerges second in the contest.

Ahead of the second round of voting, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg suggested: “Scurrilous whispers are whizzing round about deals and counter-deals. There are suggestions that some of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson’s declared backers are secretly reaching out to Rory Stewart and gently wondering about potential jobs.

“Conspiracists suggest that Boris Johnson’s team are ordering some of their supporters to vote today for Jeremy Hunt to ensure he faces what they see as a vanilla politician in the final two.

“Lots of politicians love nothing more than campaigning and hustling for votes, and what could be more fun for them when they don’t even have to bang on doors in the rain to do so but can plot happily in the tea rooms of Westminster?”

On Twitter, Nick King, a former special adviser to Javid, commented: “Saj’s dad was an immigrant. Saj went to his local comp and an FE (further education) College. Rory went to Eton and Balliol (College in Oxford) just like Boris.”

Further votes on Wednesday and Thursday will see only two candidates selected for the final ballot of Tory members. The two will be put to a postal vote of the 160,000 Tory party members, beginning on 22 June, with the winner expected to be announced about four weeks later.

The attitudes of the Tory members were revealed on Tuesday in a YouGov poll which suggested that die-hard Conservatives so hate the EU that they are willing to countenance even the break-up of the UK or damage to the economy in order to achieve Brexit.

This is ironic since their party is officially called the “Conservative & Unionist Party”.Many people have been shocked by the findings of the poll. YouGov surveyed 892 Conservative Party members on June 11-14. The survey found that 63 per cent of members would be prepared to see Brexit take place even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK.

Some 61 per cent would rather Brexit took place even if it caused “significant damage” to the economy, 59 per cent “would prioritise leaving the EU” even if it meant Northern Ireland breaking away from the rest of the UK, and 54 per cent would accept the Tory party “being destroyed” in order to secure Brexit.

Almost half (46 per cent) said they would be happy to see the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage as their new leader.

However, only 39 per cent of the members who responded to the question said they would want Brexit to take place if it meant Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next prime minister, with 51 per cent saying they would rather the UK did not leave the EU in order to avoid that happening.

Asked about the poll, the official spokesman for caretaker Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Right from her very first day in office and throughout the Brexit negotiations, the Prime Minister has placed great importance upon securing the Union. It is hugely important to her and I think you have seen throughout her commitment to trying to protect the integrity of the Union.”