Johnson’s first battle as PM with the BXP looks set to be at Brecon & Radnor within a week of him getting the job

June 20th, 2019

Farage’s favourite pollster, Survation, has already been active

At 5pm today the six recall petition centres across the B&R constituency will close their doors and late tomorrow morning the sitting CON MP will learn whether or not 10% of those on the electoral roll have signed the petition demanding his recall. If the total tops the required number then the Speaker will be informed formally and a vacancy will be declared.

The petition follows the conviction of the CON MP for expenses fraud – one of the three stated factors in the recall legislation that bring one into effect.

It is expected that the by-election will take place on July 25th or a week later on August 1st. The result of the Tory leadership  election is due in the week of July 22nd so Johnson’s first by-election test be shortly afterwards.

We do know that Survation, which has carried out a lot of constituency polling in the past for Farage, has been running a survey in B&R  no doubt to test the water. The seat was broadly in line with the overall UK result at the Referendum so not as clear cut a leave seat as Peterborough.

Given BXP’s strong Westminster polling position it clearly will want to contest the seat a move that could split the Tory vote and could make the task of LDs, who have been campaigning hard for weeks, a bit easier.

But will Farage want to do something that would undermine arch-Brexiteer Boris so early on in his new job? My guess is that he’s no alternative. BXP needs to fight battles like this and do well in order to keep the momentum going.

The result of the petition is expected tomorrow. The by-election campaigning will start immediately afterwards.

Mike Smithson




This is a good moment to recall the MP stage of the 2001 Tory leadership election when Portillo missed the cut by just one vote

June 19th, 2019

How IDS got into the members’ ballot with fewer than a third of the MP votes

The very first time the CON leadership election procedure that we are seeing at the moment was used was in 2001 in the aftermath of Tony Blair’s second successive landslide general election victory.

The longstanding favourite and the person expected to take the crown was Michael Portillo who had lost his Enfield seat at GE1997. He returned to the Commons in a by-election and seemed on course for to become leader in 2011. I’ve long felt that if he had he would have given Blair a run for his money in 2004.

The Wikipedia panel above shows the dynamic of that election process. As can be seen Portillo came top in the first two rounds of MP voting but then lost it at the final MP hurdle by a single vote.

In the membership ballot IDS easily out did the pro-EU Ken Clarke.

That Duncan Smith became leader after getting fewer than a third of the MP votes always meant he would struggle with the parliamentary party. Two years later he lost a confidence vote and was kicked out of the job.

Michael Portillo left politics and developed a successful career in TV.

Mike Smithson



Now we are down to the final 4 and CON MPs reject the contender deemed to have “won” last night’s debate

June 19th, 2019


YouGov snap CON debate poll gives it to Stewart amongst all voters by a big margin

June 19th, 2019

This raises doubts over BoJo’s ability to win converts

YouGov has published what appears to be the only poll carried out on last night’s CON leader debates. The main details are in the YouGov table above.

While there’s little doubt that the member for Uxbridge does well with Tory voters but the party is going to need much more than them in a general election and that presents something of a dilemma.  That just 7% of Remain voters gave their debate verdict to Johnson is very telling and should be worrying  as it seems set to choose Johnson.

Tony Blair was a hugely successful general election campaigner because he was able to reach voters that other LAB figures had been able to get through to. He won three general election working majorities on the trot.

One of the things that’s always trotted out in relation to Johnson is his success in London. A big factor that helped that, I’d suggest, was that each time his LAB opponent was Ken Livingstone and in 2008 when he first won the London mayoralty Cameron’s Tory party was on a roll.

By May 2008 Brown’s LAB had really run out of steam and the Tories looked as though they were heading for a Commons majority.

Maybe this YouGov poll will help keep Stewart in the race in this afternoon’s ballot of MPs


Mike Smithson





From a media perspective Team Boris will regard last night as job well done

June 19th, 2019

He’s helped by the size of the field

The Boris plan of refusing almost all media invitations meant that last night was the first time anybody had seen him facing scrutiny since TMay announced that she was going. But the nature of the programme with the BBC feeling it had to bring in questions from studios all over the country meant that the time spent with the overwhelming betting favourite was very limited.

I found him less than convincing and he could be vulnerable in one to one probing. Issues were allowed to hang that should have been probed a bit further because the programme operated on the BBC principle of being fair to all five.

We did get a glimpse of what will become a big narrative when the prospect of UK farmers facing huge tariffs for when their produce is exported to the EU on a such a scale that is going to make it very difficult.

What we need to hear is what the presumptive PM is going to do about those sections of the UK economy that could be ruined in the event of no deal. Johnson needs to be pressed hard.

I was impressed by Stewart’s response afterwards to what clearly was a lacklustre performance. The format didn’t suit him at all and his admission could help him keep in the race after tonight’s vote.

There’s a lot of betting going on and the amount wagered on the Betfair exchange is now above £7m.

Mike Smithson



If punters have this right the big loser in the CON debate was Stewart – down from a 9% chance to a 4% one

June 18th, 2019

Betfair exchange via Betdata.io

For those who didn’t watch just check out the comments on the previous thread.

Overall I don’t think it has changed much. For me the most impressive performers were Hunt and Javid. Stewart didn’t meet expectations and hence his decline in the betting.

Mike Smithson


Raab out – Stewart the big gainer

June 18th, 2019


Maybe Raab’s the one with the best chance of stopping Johnson?

June 18th, 2019

Kitchen Cabinet on choosing between the illness and the cure

Boris Johnson’s election to the Conservative leadership looks almost assured. As I mentioned on a previous thread, Gavin Williamson looks to have done wonders for BoJo’s election prospects. If you are a Boris hater, I might have some good news for you. There is a way he may not be elected. The bad news (for many) is that the only way for that to happen is to have him face Dominic Raab in the members’ ballot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of Raab in terms of electability to the wider public. He comes across as wooden and stiff and non-likeable (although he has an impressive back story). Moreover,  some of his comments around feminism may open him up to attack later, though many in the membership may cheer his stance. However, if you don’t want Johnson as your PM, he is your man.

One way to look at this is to say which opponent, if any, Johnson would like to face in a run-off. Jeremy Hunt would be the favourite.  Easy to characterise as May 2.0, who would flip flop on Brexit and not deliver. Michael Gove would be a close second. The media would love a Gove-BoJo contest but, in reality, it wouldn’t be close. The revelations on Gove are fatal not because he used cocaine (the Conservative membership can be forgiving of personal failings, look at Cecil Parkinson) but because firstly, it shows him to be a hypocrite and, secondly, he looks the sort of guy who used it to impress – not a good look. Oh, and nobody likes a backstabber. Javid might be harder for BoJo but, again, he lacks charisma, can be accused of chickening out on Brexit and the banker angle may be an issue.

That leaves Stewart and Raab. Stewart has been a revelation but, to me, he seems a bit like Game of Thrones – all the luvvies rave about him but the general population couldn’t care less and are watching Coronation Street. His message beyond Brexit is rather vague and he looks odd (mainly not his fault but…). Moreover, BoJo would always be able to use the nuclear weapon of saying Stewart would never fulfil Brexit to persuade the membership to vote for him.

But he could never do that with Raab who could never be accused of threatening to reverse Brexit (at least by BoJo). Raab also has a second agenda he has pushed hard – reducing taxation – which would also be popular amongst the membership and which could win him votes. Boris’ policy commitments are rather, mmm, vague in comparison. Finally, he has been active, both in the media and at the grass roots level, since leaving the Cabinet, which should also help him.

One obvious riposte is that Johnson polls far better than Raab amongst the members. But the real question is how “hard” is that support. I suspect not much. Lord Ashcroft’s feedback suggest that many have negative views on Boris that can be exploited. If Raab pushed hard in a campaign, BoJo May flounder.

The one thing is, though, that I suspect Gavin Williamson is also aware of many of these dynamics and whom would also make the easiest competition for BoJo to face and who wouldn’t. Thus, Raab backers are likely to face subtle hints and threats to withdraw although he may be saved by harder line Brexiteers taking a view that Raab needs to be in the final rounds to stop BoJo reneging on Brexit. We will soon find out.

The Kitchen Cabinet