Boris Johnson gets even closer to the premiership of the UK

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Boris Johnson is now close to Downing Street, after another round in the Tory leadership race.

His share of the vote only edged up from by 17 yesterday, from 126 to 143. The day before, it had edged up by 12, from 114 votes of Tory MPs to 126.

It is striking that a man who is so far out in front of his fellow contenders, and who has by far the highest popularity ratings of the Conservative hopefuls as a potential prime minister, both among Tory voters and voters at large, still has not secured the support of half of his fellow MP colleagues.

Some 170 of them are continuing to vote for other contenders. It suggests a significant level of unease at the prospect of having Boris Johnson at the helm.

But for some reason, his insurgent challenger, Rory Stewart, who had come from almost nowhere (little know, then 19 votes in the first round of the contest, soaring to 37 in the second) collapsed back yesterday to 27 votes.

He had impressed people across the country with his articulacy, charm and thoughtfulness. Mr Stewart also candidly said he would not make unrealistic promises to win votes.

It might be that this ostentatious honesty began to grate on colleagues, as a perceived attack on mainstream Tory values, or if not that then caused them concerns.

Whatever the reason, Mr Johnson now appears unstoppable. The simple start statistical fact is that no one of the three remaining contenders for the Tory crown — Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid — has anywhere near enough support to catch Mr Johnson.

And if they have been unable to persuade Tory MPs, or indeed TV viewers, of their prime ministerial colleagues, they are unlikely to do so when the vote goes out to Tory members.

This though has been an informative process for us all. We got to see some of the strengths and weaknesses of those who staked their claim to the premiership of the UK. We also have established that Mr Johnson is the most popular of the Tory candidates among MPs, but by no means popular.