Let me be absolutely clear

The Tory psychodrama now moves into the next phase, some will do interviews on radio, some will do interviews on television, some might do interviews under caution.

All very entertaining, but we are not the electorate and are not involved in the process in any way. There will be a number of rounds of votes, the bottom few will be eliminated each round and some may strategically drop out just prior to actually losing a vote in an vain effort to keep their political career untarnished. At the end the last two candidates will go to a ballot of Tory members, and I can’t be bothered to make disparaging remarks about the demographics – it is all sorts of Tories and it doesn’t matter for the next bit. One will come first, the other will come second. Lets indulge in a little thought experiment on how things might play out from there.

When the process is complete Theresa May who is the Prime Minister will remain the Prime Minister until she can make a clear recommendation to the Queen about who should be invited to form a government that can command a majority of the House of Commons. I was quite precise with the wording there, it is set out in the cabinet manual which you can read. The vote of confidence happens after the new person is invited to try to form a government. Theresa May has to make a clear recommendation based on whatever information she can base it on, but that will not include a vote of the House of Commons. It looks highly dubious that any candidate can keep the DUP and all factions of the Conservatives on board.

Lets say a hypothetical outcome is that Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart are the last two that go to the membership. Boris wins. There is no way he can command a majority in the house. Lets imagine that the SNP and/or Labour decide that now isn’t really the time for a General Election, however they decide to let Rory have a go for a while and announce that they will support him in confidence motions until an early General Election in May 2020. In that scenario May’s clear recommendation to the Sovereign has to be to ask Rory Stewart to form a government. The democratic vote of the Tory membership means nothing – the opposition can pick whatever candidate they like (even one that doesn’t make the last two), or cause a general election.

We live in interesting times.

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