First round down and as expected Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt top the poll, with Gove following. Rory Stewart scraped through to much relief: he is the fence to be sat on, so he has to stay in the race.
The Plantagenet nature of the race I have analysed before. Little has changed, but now three have been eliminated.
The Byzantine rules laid down are that in the first round all those who won less than 17 votes from their colleagues are eliminated and the rest go through to the next round unless they withdraw in the interim. The results of the first round vote are:
- Boris Johnson: 114
- Jeremy Hunt: 43
- Michael Gove: 37
- Dominic Raab: 27
- Sajid Javid: 23
- Matthew Hancock: 20
- Rory Stewart: 19
- Andrea Leadsom: 11
- Mark Harper: 10
- Esther McVey: 9
Now the manoeuvring begins to woo the losers’ supporters, and here it becomes tangled. Is Boris too far ahead to be excluded from the final two? If not, it would still take a mighty effort to keep him out, and Dominic Raab, who can see the writing on the wall for his own bid, and newly freed Esther McVey are unlikely to let that happen.
Supporters of the winner expect the rewards of their loyalty in the patronage to be dispensed from the new Number One in Number 10. That means demotion for those who were too cool. Rory Stewart is still there as the hopeless candidate it is safe to support to sit on the fence, but at the next round he will be out and then there is nowhere left to hide.
If the case is hopeless, the is always malice as a refuge, saying with Somerset “I owe him little duty, and less love”. However all those thrown down who are tempted that way, take a look across the chamber at the bearded Marxist waiting to fill the government benches and every public office in the land with his people and hold your peace.