Ambitious Tories have until midday to get their campaigns off the ground if they want to be the next leader (and Prime Minister). Stephen Crabb made his pitch yesterday, and now the spotlight falls onto the bigger names, with Theresa May attempting to burnish her Eurosceptic credentials by announcing that she will set up a “ministry for Brexit” if she becomes Prime Minister. “The job now is about uniting the Party, uniting the country and negotiating the best possible deal for Britain,” the Home Secretary will say.
Mrs May will seek to depict herself as the ideal candidate to unify the party, although her campaign is already preparing for a fierce contest against Boris Johnson for the top job. One friend of the Home Secretary told the Telegraph that he was the “most divisive person in British politics” and is not “credible” enough to run the country after Brexit. Mrs May develops that theme in the Times, writing that “what the government does isn’t a game; it’s a serious business that has real consequences for people’s lives”. May won’t try to fight Johnson in the charisma stakes, so she is setting out a stall for competence instead. May also ruled out doing any “deals” with Johnson in order to pave the way for a quick coronation. A spokesman explained she would “rather lose” than compromise with him. Michael Gove seems to be more amenable towards Boris Johnson, although a leaked email his wife sent to him suggests that there is an element of pragmatism behind his support. Sarah Vine insisted that her husband obtained “specific” guarantees on immigration controls before throwing his weight behind the former Mayor. We’ll be liveblogging today’s developments in the Tory leadership race here.
Liam Fox is also entering the leadership race, and has written in the Telegraph a stirring case for why Britain should seize the opportunity of Brexit. “We are right to take control of our own destiny,” he says. “We should never forget that we are a special country. It is time to feel special again.” Brexiteers will be encouraged by France’s finance minister Michael Sapin, who appeared to break ranks with EU leaders by suggesting the country was prepared to reach a deal to allow Britain to limit free movement of EU migrants while retaining access to the Single Market.
Nigel Farage must be torn over who he would want most to win, writing in today’s paper that the next Prime Minister should be “someone who intends to help fulfil this country’s potential as a self-governing nation” and doesn’t indulge in “backsliding” on Brexit. Allister Heath agrees, writing: “We need determination, discipline, cool under extreme pressure, grit and seriousness; we also need a national leader who can inspire the country and hopefully reunite the centre‑Right political family.”
Unity looks much harder to aspire for in the Labour party right now, as Angela Eagle is preparing to fight Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership after he defied calls from Tom Watson and Ed Miliband to stand down. 50 Labour MPs are now set to back Eagle, while Owen Smith is also said to be contemplating a challenge.David Cameron even weighed in, telling Corbyn to go “for heaven’s sake”, which may ensure he becomes harder to dislodge, as Corbynite activists would loathe to help a Tory Prime Minister.
Much of the moderates’ anger stems from Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to get enough Labour voters out to back Remain. Alan Johnson derided his “risible” efforts, while Vice News has released new video showing how Corbyn’s aides were struggling to get him to fight a “high-energy” campaign. Sadiq Khan told Al Jazeera yesterday that “Labour supporters weren’t aware of what our position was” when he went campaigning in areas like Manchester, Leeds, Oldham and Bradford. So they are preparing to exploit the party’s pro-EU campaign machine to target pro-Remain members, but can they defeat the tidal wave of £3 temporary members Corbyn plans to recruit? As Eagle prepares to lead the charge against Corbyn over the next 24 hours, you can stay up to date with all this on our liveblog.