Snow White and the 13 dwarves? I’m not identifying any of the 14 potential candidates for the Conservative leadership currently listed on this site as the former. Or indeed the latter. But you get my drift.
As I write, any Tory MP can declare that he or she intends to stand – regardless of whether or not the or she has any serious support among their colleagues.
Which means that we are once again facing the prospect of an Andy Warhol leadership election – i.e: a contest in which any Conservative MP can become “famous for 15 minutes”.
He can declare, get his name in lights, angle for a deal with a more substantial candidate – and then formally withdraw from an election which he was never a serious contender.
This is why the 1922 Committee Executive required candidates to have a minimum threshold of support of ten MP supporters in order to enter the Parliamentary round of the 2019 leadership election.
The ’22’s aim was to eliminate from the contest those MPs who had no real chance of winning. Even so, eight candidates entered the contest, three of whom won under 17 votes in the first round at Westminster.
This time round, the new executive should set a higher threshold: say 25 supporters. If you can’t find a robust minimum number to back you publicly you are wasting your time – and everyone else’s too.
My understanding is that the first round of MP voting may be held on Wednesday and a second round if it is necessary on Thursday (which is almost certainly will be).
The Parliamentary stage will then stretch into next week. The election will take place by exhaustive ballot – so it will go on for as long as is necessary to whittle the contenders down to a final two to put to the members.
Graham Brady is the returning officer for the election, and will thus put a timetable for the membership stage to the Party Board. Senior members of the ’22 want the whole contest done and dusted by the time of Parliament’s return on September 5.