Ordinarily, when one tenant decides it’s time to vacate a property, those who fancy moving in next have the task of contacting the letting agent(s) to get the asking price and perhaps arrange viewing.
But when the vacancy for the next occupant of 10 Downing Street became officially opened on that memorable Friday morning of May 24th, when British Prime Minister Theresa May tearfully announced that she was leaving “the job l love,” and by default vacating the property, none of the most reputable high street letting agents did receive any calls to shop for the next occupier. Rather, the jostling to be the next occupant will have to be the person that succeeds May as the Conservatives party ,a.k.a. The Tory party leader.
That got under way before sunset of the same day – even though some came late to the viewing. One reason was because May was always going to leave, anyway, having failed to master the “Art of the Deal,” and get her Brexit plan through the Commons.
Ironically for Mrs May, the best selling author of the Art of the Deal President Donald Trump came for a State visit after she had already tendered her resignation to her party.
So, with her resignation as the Tory’s leader confirmed from the horse’s mouth, those who could be king and the “also-ran” wasted no time in putting in open bids to be the next occupier of the most sought after property in British politics.
These included the usual suspects — Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt — and the others like Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Esther McVey, Mark Harper and even a previous applicant, Andrea Leadson.
By the way, both Gove and Johnson had also previously sought to occupy the property as well, but they couldn’t for various reasons. That was 2016, but this is now.
But, in politics, throwing your hat into the ring ring is one thing, getting the numbers is another. Coupled with that is the fact that like many plump jobs, the number of applicants was always going to be far more than what the employer wants. The case was no different in this instance, as pretenders who showed their hands alongside those of the serious contenders talked the talk but only to soon realise that — like one telecommunications advert of old noted — talk is cheap. In fact, some pretenders didn’t even make it to the starting blocks.
So, after the party had shortlisted contenders for the job , the race started officially with ten applicants left for the first round itself, on Thursday, June 13, when each made their pitch to their party colleagues in the House of Commons. That was the last of the ambitions of Leadson , Harper and McVey. The trio didn’t get the numbers to proceed to the next round. Meanwhile, the odds on favourite, Johnson , didn’t disappoint. The 114 votes he got were more than the combined sum of his nearest two rivals, Hunt (43) and Gove (37).
Prior to round two, Matt Hancock pulled out, thus leaving the field for six contestants on Tuesday, 18th. That was the end of the road for another candidate, Dominic Raab. Johnson, meanwhile, didn’t surrender his lead , as the top dog secured 126, while Hunt and Gove had 46 and 41 respectively. With 37 colleagues still backing his ambition, Rory Stewart and Javid, who got 33, made it to round three.
But Stewart would only last till the following day, when his support decreased to 27 votes, while Javid hung in there at the rear with 38. But it was consolidation for Johnson (143), with Hunt and Gove 54 and 51 respectively.
But like the “also-ran”, Javid, who had then boasted that “l’m in this to win it,” soon understood what “Gone With the Wind” was all about as he got knocked out on Thursday, June 20th, when Tory MPs had to decide which final two candidates would go head to head and make the cut.
They will subsequently be presented to the rank and file of the party in late July.
On that Thursday, 20th, there were two rounds of voting. As mentioned, Javid was the first to bite the dust, and in the final round of three, Gove, the environment secretary was muscled out with his 75 votes, just two short of what Hunt got. However, Johnson, whose private love affair would from Friday dominate the media, won convincingly on the night with 160 votes to his name.
With the battle now a two-horse race, it is the rank and file of the Tory party’s 160,000 membership that will decide who occupies 10 Downing Street, when May leaves in the week of July 22, when the party announces the next Tory leader.