The sooner the unwieldy Tory contest is down to two, the better

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

A total of 10 candidates will go through to the first round of the Conservative Party leadership.

A further three MPs who had sought the Tory crown dropped out before yesterday evening’s close to nominations.

The Conservative high command has latterly tried to control the scale of the contest by insisting that each name have eight MPs who endorse their nomination and also stipulating that only those candidates who have 17 votes after this Thursday’s first ballot can go on to the subsequent rounds.

It is surprising therefore that the number of candidates had not been whittled down further by the time of last night’s closure of nominations.

After all, several of them only have the declared support of less than half a dozen backbench Tory MPs — fewer than the number of backers they needed to get this far.

It is clear that some of these politicians need more of what their MP colleague Alan Duncan has called for in candidates: a degree of self awareness as to how popular they are.

The candidates with the most backing of declared MPs are, listed from most popular, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid.

The others are so far behind that it will be surprising if the last two contenders, who then are voted on by the party membership, are not from that aforementioned five.

All of them have made unionist noises in this contest, but all of them have endorsed or accepted worrying compromises, such as the disastrous backstop, at some stage since Theresa May made her foolish pledge on the Irish land border in late 2017.

It is no exaggeration to say that future coherence of the UK depends upon the outcome of this leadership contest.

The sooner it gets down to the last two names, and we can all find out more on precisely how both of that pair of final contenders for the premiership intend lead the nation in these crucial coming months, the better.