In the first round of this year’s first Conservative leadership election, Liz Truss won 50 votes and Suella Braverman 32 votes. Not every Tory MP who voted for either will have been on the Party’s right. But enough will have been for these 82 votes to be considered the right’s core support.
And there is more of it. Kemi Badenoch will have drawn some of her 40 votes from the right, as will Penny Mordaunt and most of the other candidates. My best guess is that the right of the Parliamentary party is about 150 MPs strong.
Some of my oldest friends are pointing out that those 150 votes have to go somewhere and that, since some of them won’t go to Rishi Sunak or Mordaunt under any circumstances, there is only one other receptacle available: Boris Johnson. So he will therefore clear the nominations threshold – and go on to win the contest, given his popularity with members.
A threshold of 100 for nominations is a testing requirement, but it may well be that my friends are right. What may now turn out to be decisive is whether the field remains at three – assuming that Sunak stands – or Badenoch, Braverman and others decide also to enter the contest.
If either Braverman or Badenoch pitch in, they will draw backers from the right (though neither is likely to make the threshold). It follows that the more candidates from the right declare, the lower Johnson’s nomination total is likely to be.
As I write, our list of supporters has Sunak on 35 backers and Johnson on 18. The Spectator‘s has Johnson on 37 and Sunak on 36. The Guido Fawkes list has Johnson on 51 and Sunak on 44: its list of Johnson backers doesn’t restrict itself to named supporters, as ours and the Spectator‘s does, but includes anonymous ones marked, say, “a whip” or “Party Board.
I’m itching to put a ConservativeHome members’ survey in the field, but am unwilling to do so while the list of runners and riders is developing. There’s no point in issuing one and then finding that some new candidate declares.