**Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt Advance in Tory Leadership Election**
After two days of voting, Tory MPs have selected Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to progress to the next stage of the leadership election. The run-off will now be decided by the party’s 160,000 members. Johnson received over half the votes, with 160, while Hunt narrowly defeated Michael Gove with 77 votes to 75.
**Boris Johnson’s Potential as Prime Minister**
Boris Johnson’s chances of becoming the next prime minister are even stronger now than they were a week ago. However, Johnson has always struggled to win the support of his Conservative colleagues. He is known for prioritizing personal gain, having earned £540,000 in a single year from journalism and public speaking. Additionally, Johnson has been lackluster in his parliamentary performances. Nevertheless, he is beloved by party members who appreciate his charismatic speeches and flamboyant style, as well as his stance on Brexit.
**Jeremy Hunt’s Obstacles**
Jeremy Hunt faces an uphill battle to slow down Boris Johnson’s momentum. While Hunt is an impressive figure in many respects, the foreign secretary is trying to gain support from a party that has become fixated on Brexit and dissatisfied with how Britain has been treated by Brussels. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the damage that a no-deal Brexit would cause, the majority of party members still express their support for it. Furthermore, Hunt’s past support for Remain in the 2016 referendum invites comparisons to Theresa May, who was criticized by hard-core Brexiteers for her failure to “believe” in delivering Brexit.
**Michael Gove’s Strong Opposition to Boris Johnson**
If Michael Gove had advanced instead of Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson would have faced a much more formidable challenge. Gove is known for his skillful debate tactics, quick thinking, and policy expertise. Unlike Johnson, Gove possesses a deep understanding of policy details and has a sharp edge when necessary. Gove’s ability to damage Johnson’s campaign is undeniable. On the other hand, Hunt is seen as too moderate and lacks the ability to burst Johnson’s bubble. Johnson’s luck as the front-runner continues.
**The Self-Preservation Motive of Tory MPs**
Tory MPs also acted in their own self-interest by selecting Hunt and Johnson to compete against each other. They were keen to avoid a contest similar to the ancient tale of Polynices and Eteocles, who ultimately killed each other in their quest for power. Johnson and Gove were close friends during their time at Oxford, and Johnson even selected Gove to run his campaign for prime minister in 2016. However, Gove turned on Johnson, publicly questioning his fitness for the role. By choosing Hunt, MPs prevented a bloodbath and distanced their party from this dramatic power struggle.
**The Limited Diversity of Candidates**
The party’s selection of Johnson and Hunt as the final contenders reveals the limited diversity within the Conservative Party. Both candidates come from privileged backgrounds, having attended private schools and Oxford University. The elimination of candidates like Sajid Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, and Michael Gove, the adopted son of an Aberdeen fishmonger, highlights the lack of representation within the party. Additionally, the leadership campaign has been marred by rumors of deception and strategic voting tactics, further tarnishing its image.
**The Importance of Healing and Cooperation**
It is crucial for the Conservative Party’s future that the personal damage inflicted during this leadership campaign and its predecessor is repaired. Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart, in particular, need to reconcile and find a way to work together. Stewart has shown that a Conservative candidate can appeal to more moderate voters and possesses the skills to excel as a foreign secretary. Similarly, Johnson and Gove must set aside their differences and cooperate for the benefit of the party. Gove’s understanding of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, along with his policy expertise, could complement Johnson’s leadership. In an ideal scenario, they would form a strong partnership in government.