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The Tory runners and riders: Is it time for the spectral lady?

Comedian MITCH BENN takes a closer look at some of the front runners in the event of Boris Johnson's resignation, including Liz Truss, Nadine Dorries and the second coming of Margaret Thatcher...

Photo: Montage by The New European.

There are many nasty things you can call the Conservative Party, but inconsistent isn’t one of them. Whenever the nation is in turmoil, beset with economic woes and disease at home and menaced by the threat of war abroad, you can always depend on the Tories to step up, stride forward and squander six to eight months of all of our lives on a bitter leadership contest.

Since even Boris Johnson’s staunchest supporters now seem to admit that it’s a question of when, rather than if, his position is challenged – especially after Sue Gray’s update on Monday – let’s take a closer look at some of the front-runners:


At the time of writing, the only likely candidate who has actually, however tentatively, “put himself forward”, Mr Tugendhat has a reputation for integrity and hard work as chairman of the foreign affairs committee, and has taken measured and sensible positions on Brexit and Afghanistan.

As such, he doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance.


Because he’s the only senior Conservative anyone has ever heard of who isn’t currently dripping in Boris-stink, and because, let’s face it, it’s going to be so much fun spending the next few years listening to newsreaders trying not to say it.


Young Rishi is playing his cards extremely close to his chest thus far; his defence of the prime minister in his current travails has been muted and hesitant at best, but he is being careful not to show any obvious ambition to move from No 11 Downing Street to No 10.

Or maybe it is just that Mr Sunak is genuinely relaxed about the whole issue; after all, if he never gets to run this country he can simply buy one of his own.


Not that Liz Truss has been plotting behind Boris’s back for weeks now, but SOMEBODY bagsied the web addresses AND on December 29, so it is safe to assume that Ms Truss’s hat is headed ringwards.

Will the Tory faithful be able to forgive her for such subterfuge? Or will she be able to convince them that her primary motivation is unswerving loyalty above all things, just like it was when she was in the Liberal Democrats?


Ms Dorries’s qualifications for the twin jobs of Tory leader and prime minister are shaky to say the least – about as shaky as she appeared to be on TV on Monday night, in fact – but that’s never slowed her down before.

And she has definitely been putting in the groundwork. Prior to her recent elevation to the cabinet, Ms Dorries was principally remembered for heading into the jungle with Ant and Dec and eating dried kangaroo anus on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here a few years back.

The future culture secretary was censured at the time for going AWOL from Parliament (and forgetting to declare her appearance fees).

But perhaps Ms Dorries was cannily getting in some practice in chewing on leathery Australian bumholes in anticipation of having to win favour with Rupert Murdoch.


On the one hand, the prospect of Mr Francois hurling himself into the leadership fray is so uproariously entertaining that you’re just dying to see it happen.

On the other hand, that’s exactly what people were saying about Boris Johnson 15 years ago.


Let’s be honest, this is what the Conservative Party is actually waiting for. They’ve never really gotten over the loss of Mrs Thatcher, and all their attempts to reproduce that Thatcherite buzz have thus far fallen desperately short.

Theresa May’s Maggie impression was never a tenth as convincing as the Daily Mail desperately tried to convince us it was – though she seemed vengeful enough the other day – and there isn’t enough hairspray in the world to make Liz Truss look Thatcheresque.

So if nothing but the real thing will do, then the real thing it will have to be. Come on, Tories, we can do this! We have the technology! Whether it’s voodoo, cybernetics, animatronics or some combination of all of them, it’s time for the second coming of Mrs T…


Yeah, I know, but hear me out, OK… When you think about it, not only is he at a bit of a loose end just now, Jeremy Corbyn might just be the most qualified candidate for the job.

First of all, credit where credit’s due; Jeremy Corbyn did more to ensure the Conservative Party’s landslide victory in December 2019 than any politician actually IN the Conservative Party…

Second, perhaps the single most important trait a Tory leader can embody is implacable opposition to the Labour Party, and in this respect, Corbyn’s record is second to none (apart from the four years he was in charge of it, of course).


My brow is cold and sweaty
My blood begins to curdle
How can I wait till midnight comes
To play another Wordle?
While doom-scrolling through Twitter
My mood scarcely improves
Glowering jealously at those
Who got it in two moves.
All day anticipating
Another spelling hurdle
Why can we play just one a day?
You teasing, taunting Wordle.

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