We have seen two Tory Leadership bids this morning that aim to show they can bridge the party divides. Jeremy Hunt, who campaigned for Remain and sits for a Lib Dem facing southern seat, has announced that Esther McVey, Brexiteer and northern seat, will be his deputy PM. As he put it, John Prescott to his Tony Blair. Tom Tugendhat, Remainer, southern seat, never served under Boris Johnson, has announced the backing of Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Brexiteer, northern seat, one of Johnson’s leadership campaign whips and still a member of the government.
This is a very American approach, you balance the ticket with someone who can reach the parts of the party that the principal struggles with. In British politics, this approach has a chequered history. The Ken Clarke–John Redwood pact didn’t work, but then that was made towards the end of the contest, not at the start. Another way of doing things is to be a candidate who can argue that they can bring the party together through their positions and tone; someone who can be a bridge between the different wings of the party.
The opening days of this contest show how important party unity will be once this is done. Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment – thou shall not speak ill of a fellow party member – isn’t being much observed at the moment. But how vital it will be to pick up second – and third and fourth – preferences in this contest will mean that there will be a premium on transferability as this race goes on.
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