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Tory Leadership Contest: Candidates With Fewer Than 36 Votes ‘likely To Be Excluded After First Round’ – Live

Candidates with fewer than 36 votes likely to be excluded after first round, senior Tory saysA new 1922 Committee executive is being elected today, and its first job, late this afternoon, will be to finalise the arrangements for the parliamentary stage of the Tory leadership contest. That is the part where MPs whittle the candidates down to a shortlist of two.

But the current committee has already been considering this (the new committee will have the same chair, Sir Graham Brady) and Bob Blackman, its joint executive secretary, gave an interview to Sky News this morning setting what is likely to be the process.

Blackman said that Conservative party members will definitely get a vote because candidates will have to promise not to pull out if they make it onto the final shortlist. In 2016 Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May were the two names on the final shortlist, but Leadsom conceded at that point, and so May became leader without members having a say. This speeded up the contest by several weeks. But it meant that May never had the chance to obtain a mandate from the membership, or explain in more detail what her agenda was. Blackman said promising to contest the final ballot would be “a condition of nomination”. He said that candidates would need the support of at least 20 MPs to be allowed onto the ballot paper. To show they have a “broad swathe of support, candidates will need a proposer, a seconder and then 18 “or possibly more supporters” to qualify for the ballot, he said. In 2019 candidates needed the support of just eight MPs to be allowed to contest the first round. He said that, after the first ballot, candidates were likely to need at least 36 votes – 10% of the party – for them to stay in the contest. The Tories elect their leader using an exhaustive ballot, which means the candidate with fewest votes drops out each round. But a threshold will apply so that if, as expected, several candidates get little support, they will have to drop out. In the 2019 contest the first round threshold was set at 5% of the parliamentary party (17 MPs). This time it is likely to be double that, Blackman said. He said he did not think a threshold would be needed for later rounds. In 2019 a 10% threshold applied after the second ballot. He said voting would probably take place on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The 1922 Committee was committed to getting it down to two candidates by Thursday next week, he said. Bob Blackman. Photograph: Sky NewsKey events:

Zahawi says he could cut income tax to 19p in pound next year, and 18p in pound in 2024

Peter Walker

Nadhim Zahawi has promised to cut income tax by 2p within two years if he became prime minister and condemned what he called the excessive taxation and spending of the government in which he remains the chancellor.

In another ramping up of what Labour have called an uncosted tax cutting “arms race”, Zahawi told Conservative activists that he would also promise to reduce tax as a percentage of national income every year he was in power.

Speaking an event in Westminster organised by the Thatcherite group Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Zahawi, the former education secretary, who took over at the Treasury after Rishi Sunak resigned last week, seemingly condemned the taxation policies he endorsed while in Johnson’s cabinet.

The work of the CWF, which has produced a charter for lower taxation and a smaller state, which Zahawi has endorsed, was “like the first buds showing on a spring morning after a long winter”, the chancellor said.

It is a sign that finally, after too many years of tax and spending skyrocketing, the political landscape is once again coming back to the sensible policies championed by Margaret Thatcher.

Zahawi, who carried on with his speech even after a woman fainted with a loud crash in a packed and sweaty basement venue in the Churchill War Rooms, said he would cut income tax from 20p to 19p next year, and 18p in 2024.

He added: “Let me be clear: tax as a percentage of GDP will fall year on year if I become prime minister. That is a promise.”

Speaking at the same event the attorney general, Suella Braverman, called for “robust and radical” policies, including to shrink the state, but noted that factors like an ageing population made this complex.

“You can’t cut public services just like that when so many people depend on them,” she said, calling for reforms to public institutions and stronger families and communities.

Nadhim Zahawi speaking at the Conservative Way Forward event at lunchtime. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/ReutersLabour under Starmer more likely to offer Britain fresh start after election than Tories under new leader, poll suggestsVoters think a Labour government led by Keir Starmer is more likely to offer the country a fresh start after the next election than a Conservative government led by a new leader, polling from Ipsos Mori suggests.

Given that “time for a change” is often the most powerful message available at an election, this put Labour in a strong position.

The polling also shows Labour under Starmer ahead of the Tories under someone new on most measures. But the Conservatives under an as-yet-unidentified Boris Johnson replacement still have a very narrow lead on growing the economy and cutting taxes.

Polling on Labour v Tories. Photograph: Ipsos MoriRachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, told the World at One that the Tory leadership contest had become a “festival of irresponsibility”. She explained:

If you’re going to make an announcement about what taxes you’re going to cut, you need to explain where the money is going to come from.

We are now in this sort of festival of irresponsibility from the Conservatives where so far between the 11 of them, they’ve announced £330bn worth of tax cuts.

That’s more than the total NHS budget; where is that money going to come from?

The price tag is going up quickly. Last night Labour said the tax cuts promised by tory leadership candidates were worth more than £200bn.

And Pat McFadden, who as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury is Reeves’ deputy, has criticised Nadhim Zahawi for proposing to cut departmental running costs by 20%. McFadden said:

Nadhim Zahawi is living in fiscal fantasy land. Who is going to deliver these 20% cuts?

Any credible candidate needs to be able to say how much money they would raise and what would be willing to cut. How many police officers, nurses, and teachers are we going to lose? How is he going to deliver this without increasing NHS waiting lists, delays at the passport office, and the number of crimes that go unsolved?

Hour by hour, these Tory leadership candidates are shredding whatever little credibility on managing the public finances and the economy that they had left.

Commons sitting delayed because of water leaking into chamberToday’s sitting of the House of Commons has been delayed because water has been pouring in through the ceiling of the chamber after a suspected leak, PA Media reports.

Buckets were catching drips around the green benches, with a clean-up operation under way amid efforts to keep the central table dry with protective coverings.

It was unclear what was causing the leak since the weather in Westminster was very warm and dry.

A message on the annunciator monitors in parliament states: “Today’s sitting is delayed due to a water leak in the chamber. Revised sitting time to be announced.”

Police officers could be seen entering the Commons chamber with what appeared to be water-absorbent blankets.

Entry to the chamber was restricted while the issue was being dealt with.

Labour MP Emma Hardy, who briefly walked into the Commons chamber before being turned away, told PA the water leak appears to be “just in front of the dispatch box”.

She said: “I have just walked through and there are a lot of people working, around six or seven. Lots of blankets on the floor and a machine, which I’m not quite sure what is doing. It [the leak] is just in front of the dispatch box, but the roof looks fine.”

And these are from my colleague Peter Walker on Suella Braverman’s speech at the Conservative Way Forward event.

Suella Braverman is speaking now. Uses the phrase, “There is no alternative” a few times. Wonder where she got that one from?

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 Braverman, to her credit does note that you can’t simply shrink the state given demand for NHS, growing prison population etc. Her prescription seems a bit woolly, however, saying you need to improve the strength of families and communities. How do you do that?

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 Voting starts in election for new 1922 Committee executiveAubrey Allegretti

The first major battle of the Tory leadership contest is under way, as MPs vote on who should decide the rules of the contest. They are queuing up outside the same room where the no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson was held to cast their ballot for 18 members running for the 1922 Committee.

The committee will decide how many backers a leadership candidate needs to make it on to the ballot paper, and the threshold of support needed in each round to try to get the contest over quickly.

Four of the six positions of the senior roles – known as officers – are being uncontested.

But two outspoken Johnson critics, William Wragg and Nusrat Ghani, are being challenged by two of the prime minister’s supporters, Sheryll Murray and Miriam Cates.

It’s a bunfight for the rest of the 12 executive positions – with nearly two dozen candidates standing.

There are also multiple slates, and Johnson critics are feeling optimistic because only backbenchers are allowed to vote, which includes much more of their number after last week’s mass resignations from the government.

The new committee will be announced along with the decision about how the leadership contest should run this evening.

Zahawi promises to cut tax as proportion of GDP every year if he wins Tory leadershipMy colleague Peter Walker is at the Conservative Way Forward event taking place this lunchtime. It is in the Churchill War Rooms, which must have seemed like an ideal venue when it was booked (CWF is big on tradition and patriotism), but is not what you would choose for a heatwave. Someone has just fainted, Peter says.

I am in an actual bunker – well, the basement Churchill War Rooms – for an event at which we are due to hear from Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman. And David Frost. Hosted by Steve Baker’s Conservative Way Forward, which is getting candidates to sign up to tax cuts.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, now runs CWF and he opened the meeting.

This event is kind of the Tory low-tax Glastonbury. Conservative Way Forward chair Steve Baker is using the opening speech to call for a smaller state and much lower taxes.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 There was also a speech from Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor and leadership candidate. He made two very bold tax promises.

Zahawi promises to cut tax every year as a proportion of GDP if he becomes Tory leader. He says he would cut the basic rate of income tax to 18p in the pound by 2024. In the spring statement Rishi Sunak, Zahawi’s predecessor, said he wanted to cut it to 19p in the pound by 2024. The current basic rate is 20p in the pound. Nadhim Zahawi is speaking at this event. He says his “promise” is to cut tax as a %age of GDP every year. Says; “no more handouts”, which would seem to rule out rises to benefits. He says basic tax rate will be cut to 18p by 2024.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 Zahawi would also abolish green levies and VAT on energy bills for two years. Says he still supports the net zero 2050 target.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 11, 2022 The Conservatives have tried promising to cut tax as a proportion of GDP before. In a Times column last year, William Hague said he promised this when he was Tory leader – but abandoned it after being persuaded it was a bad idea. He recalled:

Back in the distant days when I was leader of the Conservative party, I had underlined my commitment to lower taxes by issuing a public guarantee that the overall burden of taxation would decline under a Tory government. Subsequently, and rightly, I was persuaded by the then shadow chancellor Michael Portillo and others that this was too much of a hostage to fortune. We could not know all the circumstances we might face, so instead we promised specific tax cuts but left ourselves room for manoeuvre.

Of course, this entire debate was academic, as the one thing that turned out to be really guaranteed was that we could not defeat Tony Blair at the height of his powers. But the experience taught me to be more careful about making promises that could be hard to fulfil.

Here is our story about the Hague U-turn, from 22 years ago (to the day).

Lord Lamont says he fears Tory leadership contest becoming ‘Dutch auction’ of unfunded tax cutsLord Lamont, a Conservative chancellor in the 1990s, has criticised Tory leadership candidates for proposing unfunded tax cuts. Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One, he said:

I’m, I must say, increasingly concerned because I think there is a danger that this leadership election is going to descend into a sort of Dutch auction of tax cuts which are not necessarily affordable, not necessarily rightly timed.

There is a danger at this point when the public finances, the amount we are borrowing, is not in a strong state.

The government have been warned by the OBR, the Office of Budget Responsibility, an independent organisation, that actually debt could spiral upwards from 100% of GDP to eventually double that if we don’t have tight control of our finances.

I’m all in favour of people putting forward tax cuts, if they say where they’re going to find the money.

Echoing what Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said this morning (see 10.19am), Lamont also said tax cuts could be inflationary, or could lead to the Bank of England putting up interest rates. He said:

There’s a real danger if you cut taxes, let’s say cut VAT in order to increase spending, to boost the economy, all you get is a very temporary boost and then you get more inflation.

I don’t suppose many people want to see interest rates above the level of inflation, but if we start giving unfunded, irresponsible tax cuts, the Bank of England will be faced with difficult choices indeed.

Starmer claims he will be ‘frank’ with Labour about choices it faces, and public service reform requires more than just investmentThe full text of Keir Starmer’s speech this morning is now available on the Labour party’s website. Starmer was speaking in Gateshead. (I’m sorry we said early he was in Newcastle, but that was based on what was in the overnight note sent out by Labour.) The best line was briefed out in advance (see 9.36am), but there were other lines in it that were worth hearing. Here is a summary.

Starmer accused Tory leadership candidates of “nauseating” hypocrisy, saying most of them backed the tax rises they are now opposing. He said: They backed every one of [Boris Johnson’s] 15 tax rises.

They’re behaving like they’ve just arrived from the moon.

They nodded along and trooped through the voting lobbies to support them.

Now, it turns out they were opposed to them all along. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

He accuses the Tory leadership candidates who are promising tax cuts (almost all of them) of “fantasy economics”. He said: The Tory leadership race hasn’t even officially begun yet but the arms race of fantasy economics is well under way.

Over the weekend, the contenders have made more than £200bn worth of unfunded spending commitments. Let that sink in.

That’s more than the annual budget of the NHS, splurged onto the pages of the Sunday papers, without a word on how it’ll be paid for.

This is very similar to the language used by Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, in his campaign video. Sunak suggests that people proposing unfunded tax cuts are offering “comforting fairy tales”. Starmer did not mention Sunak by name in his speech, but the speech could be read as a Labour endorsement of Sunak’s analysis and if that were to damage Sunak’s chances – well, Labour probably would not mind very much. Some of the polling suggests that Sunak is the only Tory candidate would would be more popular than Starmer as a potential PM. This is from polling published by Ipsos Mori published last week.

Polling on who would make best PM. Photograph: Ipsos MoriStarmer also said Labour would say how all of its plans for spending or tax cuts would be funded.

He said he wanted to be “frank” with Labour about the choices it would face in government. He said: Politics means tough decisions.

It means being frank with the public.

It doesn’t mean tossing out tens of billions of unfunded spending commitments just to play to the gallery of Tory MPs and members.

But it also means being frank with your own party.

I don’t believe you can achieve a strong economy with just a tired formula of deregulation and tax cuts.

But nor do I believe you can achieve it if all you have is redistribution and public sector investment.

This sort of triangulation – distancing Starmer from what he depicts as typical Conservative and Labour thinking – is very Blairite.

Starmer said that reforming public services would take more than just investment. He said: Reforming public services can’t just be a question of investment.

We will also need to think imaginatively – about how technology is expanding the range of what is possible to do, about how we can put people in control of more personalised and responsive services.

This means we have to think differently about the purpose of each of our public services.

This is also rather Blairite. Starmer did not elaborate in any detail, but this is how he tried to explain what he meant.

In health it means finally making good on the promise to prevent illness, not just cure it when it happens.

In education it means not just imparting knowledge, but developing the creativity, resilience, curiosity, and problem-solving abilities of every young person.

In social care it means giving people a better quality of life and paying for it in a way that is genuinely fair.

And in tackling crime, it means developing neighbourhood crime hubs that can prevent crime and build community cohesion rather than reacting when things go wrong.

He said Labour’s manifesto would focus on economic growth and wealth creation. He said: Labour will fight the next election on economic growth.

The first line of the first page of our offer will be about wealth creation.

We will show how a Labour economy based on partnership and contribution can make Britain richer.

Keir Starmer speaking at the Sage Gateshead culture centre this morning. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PANo 10 fails to deny claim Johnson planning lengthy resignation honours listYesterday Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times said Buckingham Palace was concerned about what Boris Johnson might be planning for his resignation honours list. Shipman wrote:

Aides expect Johnson to remain as an MP until at least the next election. Before that, he has the opportunity to reward his allies with a resignation honours list, something that is already causing grave concern in the royal household. The Palace is very anxious about the number of gongs, particularly the number of peerages” – sources suggest Johnson wants to hand out 20 or more. David Cameron ennobled eight in his resignation honours, Theresa May created 13 peers. “They are extremely concerned it is going to be Uncle Tom Cobley and all. There seem to be lots of unsuitable people. The list is going to be pages and pages,” said a source close to the royal household.

A political official in No 10 last week contacted a veteran Tory and asked whether it was possible that Stanley Johnson, the PM’s father, could be given a knighthood on the basis that he was “once an MEP”. The senior Conservative advised against it.

Nigel Adams, whom enemies accuse of persuading Johnson to employ Pincher, a drinking partner of his, has been telling friends he will get a peerage. Nadine Dorries is also expected to go to the Lords and revert to writing novels. Allegra Stratton, who resigned as Johnson’s spokeswoman over partygate, is also tipped for a peerage. A separate list of political peers, due before the summer recess, will include Michael Hintze, the billionaire Tory donor, and Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail.

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesperson was asked about this report, and he did not deny any of it. Asked about the resignation honours list, he said:

I don’t have an update for you on that definitively. I’ve seen sort of speculation. It is convention – individuals who can be nominated in recognition of their public or political service and prime ministers draw up those sorts of lists, but I don’t know specifically on that at this point.

Asked about reports that Johnson’s list could be long, the official said: “I don’t believe there have been any significant discussions on it at this stage.”

The spokesman also said he was “not aware” of Johnson planning to give his father, Stanley Johnson, a knighthood.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, may decide to stand as a candidate, the Times’ Steven Swinford reports.

The battle for the Tory right is getting increasingly congested

Hearing that Jacob Rees-Mogg could throw his hat into the ring for the leadership

If Priti Patel does as well there would be *four* candidates vying for the Tory right:





— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) July 11, 2022 In his tweet Swinford is using a narrow definition of the Tory right. On the basis of the pledges we’ve heard so far, almost all candidates are pitching for support from the right. Even Tom Tugendhat, sometimes seen as the most mainstream/centrist/one nation of the candidates in the contest, is calling for tax cuts, backing the Northern Ireland protocol bill and defending deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda – all policies that might loosely be labelled rightwing.

Johnson refuses to say if he feels betrayed by Tory MPs in first TV interview since announcing his resignationIn January year Beth Rigby, Sky News’ political editor, recorded one of the most compelling interviews with Boris Johnson he has given as PM (on Partygate). Today she got the much-anticipated first interview with him since he announced that he was resigning last week (see 12.08pm), but this one won’t be entered for any awards. Not through any fault of Rigby’s, it told us very little.

Johnson said that he would not be endorsing any of the candidates in the Tory leadership contest. This is standard practice for an outgoing leader, and so not very surprising, but good to have on the record. He also said that he did not want to damage anyone’s chances by endorsing them. It might be tempting to see this as a rare admission of his considerable unpopularity with voters, but it would be wiser and more realistic to treat it as a joke.

Beyond that, Johnson refused point blank to discuss how he felt about what happened last week. Asked if it felt like a bereavement, or if he felt betrayed, Johnson just ignored the question and reverted to his message about science investment. As an exercise in message discipline, it was strangely impressive. But whether a therapist would approve is another matter.

Johnson never seems at all interested in, or capable of, introspection. People assume that he will make a fortune from writing his memoirs, but he is going to have to open up a bit more for it to be a good read.

Boris Johnson looking through a microscope during a visit to the Francis Crick Institute in London this morning. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty ImagesJohnson says he won’t endorse any candidate for next Tory leaderQ: Your sister Rachel said on LBC last night that this was like a bereavement for you.

Johnson says his sister is a wonderful journalist.

But he does not say any more about her assessment, and instead he says his job is to continue with the government’s programme.

Q: You talked about the herd instinct in Westminster. Do you feel betrayed?

Johnson says: “I don’t want to say any more about all that.”

There is a contest under way, he says.

There’s a contest under way and it’s happened and I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support.

I just have to get on and, in the last few days or weeks of the job, the constitutional function of the prime minister in this situation is to discharge the mandate, to continue to discharge the mandate, and that’s what I’m doing.

He says his “constitutional function” is to carry on fulfilling his mandate.

Q: You must be sorry that you are leaving office.

There is a great, great agenda to be continued, Johnson says.

The government has put some fantastic investments into science, he says.

The government will continue with its levelling up agenda, he says.

Q: You are not backing any of the candidates.

Johnson says:

That’s not the job of the prime minister at this stage. The job of the prime minister at this stage is to let the party decide, let them get on with it and to continue delivering on the projects that we were elected to deliver.”

He ends by saying how proud he is to see the Francis Crick Institute at London up and running. He recalls the project starting when he was London mayor.

Q: You are going to go down as one of the shortest serving prime ministers

Johnson says:

I’m determined to go on and deliver the mandate that was given to us.

The outcome of the contest will be good, he says.

He says politicians should focus on the people who elect them, not what is happening at Westminster.

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Sky NewsSky News is now broadcasting the clip that Boris Johnson has recorded this morning.

Johnson starts by saying the government is investing £40bn in science. The UK has the best scientists, he says. But companies often do not get the most out of that. The government wants to encourage investment in R&D.

Beth Rigby, Sky News’ political editor, is interviewing Johnson. She says this is his first appearance in public since he announced his resignation last week. She asks how is feeling.

Johnson just repeats his spiel about science. The UK has to match France and Germany and the US for R&D, he says.

Grant Shapps was Conservative party chair ahead of the 2015 general election and, in that capacity, he helped orchestrate David Cameron’s surprise general election win. Some of what happened while he was in charge was disreputable – the party was fined by the Electoral Commission for not complying with the laws on campaign spending, and Shapps resigned from cabinet in late 2015 when it emerged that campaign initiative called Road Trip 2015 that he had championed had been plagued by bullying – but Tory MPs are likely to recall his chairmanship as a success, not a failure, because very few people expected Cameron to win an overall majority.

Tim Shipman from the Sunday Times says Shapps is now making his part of his pitch to MPs.

Another interesting move from Shapps, he’s sending colleagues a guide to how he will help them get elected again, which is a cause near their hearts

— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) July 11, 2022 But not every MP is convinced, Shipman reports.

One MP on Shapps: “The last time Grant said he’d help me win an election I nearly ended up in prison”. Gosh

— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) July 11, 2022 This sounds like Craig Mackinlay, who was put on trial for election fraud, but found not guilty, after the 2015 campaign.

ITV News has announced that it will host a debate for the Tory leadership candidates on Sunday at 7pm. By that time the field should be narrowed down to a manageable number, like four or five.

Sky News will hold a debate on Monday next week, hosted by Kay Burley.

Boris Johnson has been on a visit this morning. According to PA Media, he said he was “determined” to deliver the mandate he was elected on in 2019 in his final few weeks as prime minister.

Quite what that means is not yet clear. It is hard to imagine how he is going to rustle up 40 new hospitals by the start of September. But we should get the full quotes, and the full clip, soon.

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