EU referendum morning briefing: five become four in Tory leadership contest

The big picture

Voting begins today to eject the first of the five would-be prime ministers from the Conservative leadership running. Tory MPs pick from Theresa May (the favourite by pretty much all reckonings), Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox, with the loser evicted from the Big Westminster House without even a chance to sob in the diary room.

Most predictions have Fox as the first to go but what do predictions know?

Leadsom on Monday won the backing of Boris Johnson (he was the future once), who said she had “the zap, the drive, and the determination” to be prime minister and praised her trustworthiness. Because where are you if you can’t trust your closest political chums?

All five candidates on Monday night took part in hustings in front of their colleagues. It wasn’t a public event but, well, people will talk. Here’s what we can glean:

The deadline for voting is 6pm; expect to know who’s soared and who’s stumbled by 7pm. Non-defeated but embarrassed candidates have until Wednesday morning to pull out if they don’t want to go forward to the next knock-out round on Thursday.

Less snappily, the Labour leadership … contest? challenge? muddle? … trundles on. Today deputy leader Tom Watson meets trade union bosses in what is being billed as a last-ditch attempt at a deal that would ease Jeremy Corbyn out of his seat while also keeping the Labour party as one big happy family. Well, maybe not happy.

At a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party yesterday evening – not attended by Corbyn or his shadow chancellor John McDonnell – Watson reportedly told MPs the union meeting was a “last throw of the dice” after he had asked Corbyn earlier that day to step down (he didn’t step down).

Former leader Neil Kinnock apparently moved some MPs to tears, telling them Labour could not split:

We are not leaving our party. We are going to fight and we are going to win!

On Monday, Fabian Hamilton, the shadow Europe minister, became the 65th member of the frontbench to resign. Another ex-shadow, Angela Eagle, proved we are way past coded messages with a gauntlet-chucking statement:

I have the support to run and resolve this impasse, and I will do so if Jeremy doesn’t take action soon.

A defiant Corbyn did take action. He made a video: but is it a greatest hits package or a leadership career retrospective?

When we do things together we are very strong. Now is the time to come together.

Jeremy Corbyn addresses Labour members: come together now

And because there just aren’t enough leadership spats going on, we’re likely to see some runners and riders emerge to take Ukip into its next phase. Unless Nigel Farage un-resigns again.

Has the UK Brexited yet?

No. And according to the Austrian finance minister Hans Jörg Schelling, perhaps it never will. Schelling told German newspaper Handelsblatt (here in English):

Britain will remain a member of the EU in the future. In five years, there will still be 28 member states.

When you look at all of those [companies] who want to move to the EU, it’s a wake-up call for Britain not to leave in the end.

On the other hand, Alain Juppé, former prime minister of France and the favourite to win next year’s French presidential election, thinks the UK should leave toute de suite:

When you get divorced, you do not get to stay at home. You have to leave the common house .

Juppé also raised the prospect – rejected by the current French government but potentially a future flashpoint should he end up in the Elysée palace – that the Le Touquet agreement could be scrapped. The current accord allows the UK border force to operate in Calais.

We cannot continue with a system in which on French territory the British authorities decide the people that can be welcomed and can be rejected. That is not acceptable. 

You should also know:

The big question

Will the £3 registered Labour supporters who signed up in droves last year – and who are widely credited with placing the crown on Corbyn’s head – be voting in any new leadership contest?

The answer is: not necessarily.

As Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot report:

Registered supporters have no “ongoing” relationship with the party and would thus have to sign up again, under Labour party rules. There is also no rule on the registered supporter fee remaining at £3, or on the timeframe in which new members should be allowed to sign up, which is a matter for the national executive committee (NEC) to decide.

“It could be free, it could be £50,000 – there’s nothing to say it has to be £3,” a Labour source told the Guardian.

Another source confirmed it was the case that there was “no formal ongoing relationship conferred upon them [registered supporters] because they paid to participate in one leadership election. That only allows them to vote in that leadership election.”

Poll position

A YouGov/Times poll of Conservative party members – who’ll get to pick the next prime minister, lucky things – finds that if, as predicted, the final two are Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, May would take it at a sprint with a thumping 63% to Leadsom’s 31% (and 6% don’t-knows).

Pitted against the other candidates, May also comes out as the winner: the poll says she’d beat Stephen Crabb by 63 points, Michael Gove by 51 points and Liam Fox by 50 points.


  • Voting by Tory MPs goes on until 6pm, with a result expected by 7pm, when the lowest-scoring candidate is ejected.
  • Tom Watson meets with union bosses over Jeremy Corbyn’s future.
  • There’s some parliamentary Brexitery, with a Lords debate at 11.30am on the referendum.
  • At noon, the foreign affairs select committee ponders the implications of leaving the EU; Oliver Letwinnewly-minted minister for Brexit – will be there. He also turns up at 4pm to a Lords committee on the same topic with Europe minister David Lidington.
  • Secretary of state for communities Greg Clark and shadow chancellor John McDonnell address the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth.
  • At 6pm, Green MP Caroline Lucas, new shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis and Vince Cable speak at an event in London on building post-Brexit alliances.

Read these

Le Monde carries an interview with Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, in which she says “we do not have the slightest idea of the timing or the outcome of the negotiations between London and the EU”:

Le vrai facteur d’incertitude, c’est, à supposer que l’article 50 soit déclenché, les conditions dans lesquelles le Royaume-Uni effectuera des transactions commerciales avec l’Union européenne (UE). L’hypothèse favorable, c’est un accord à la norvégienne. C’est politiquement difficile, car le pays y aurait toutes les obligations des membres de l’UE, notamment la libre circulation des personnes, mais aucun droit. Mais ce serait le plus raisonnable économiquement …

Mais nous n’avons pas la moindre idée ni du délai, ni de l’issue des négociations entre Londres et l’UE.

Theresa May, in the Daily Mail (scroll down), says as leader she’d get to work on building a Trident replacement right away:

It would be sheer madness to contemplate even for a moment giving up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. And there is no room for compromise, and no room for cheese paring.

We need a full fleet of four submarines, capable between them of providing what the military call ‘Continuous At Sea Deterrence’, or permanent, around-the-clock cover. Doing so will send an important message that, as Britain leaves the European Union, we remain committed to working alongside our Nato allies and playing our full role in the world …

A lot of parliamentary business has, for obvious reasons, been put on hold until the leadership election is complete and a new prime minister is in post. But when it comes to the nuclear deterrent, the national interest is clear, the Conservatives are united, and we have waited long enough.

In the Times, Rachel Sylvester examines what a Labour party split would look like:

A former shadow cabinet minister describes this as a ‘Clause One rather than a Clause Four moment’ because the first line of the party’s constitution defines its purpose as ‘to organise and maintain in parliament and in the country a political Labour party’.

What is fascinating, though, is that a growing number of MPs, peers, candidates and advisers now believe that it is time to start again with a new party of the centre left. Three months ago it was seen as foolish, or even heretical, to suggest such a thing, but since the EU referendum the idea has become mainstream. The Brexit vote has changed everything, with a former cabinet minister talking of the exciting possibilities for a ‘party of the 48%’ … One of those involved behind the scenes [says]: ‘There’s a massive opportunity for a pro-business, socially liberal party in favour of the EU.’

(Hang on – isn’t that … the Liberal Democrats?)

And today’s Guardian long read: Rafael Behr on the inside story of the doomed remain campaign.

Celebrity endorsement of the day

Actor Christoph Waltznot a Brexit fan – could at least give his hearty backing to the resignation of Nigel Farage:

Of course the head rat would leave the sinking ship.

Welcome distraction of the day

After a five-year voyage, Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has reached Jupiter and successfully entered its orbit. So humans are capable of great things. Also, perhaps we could move there. #Juxit

The day in a tweet

OK, it’s strictly speaking yesterday in a tweet, but in some parts of the US it’s still 4 July:

If today were a nursery rhyme

It would be There Were Five in the Bed … and they all rolled over and one fell out. Tune in again on Thursday to see what happens when the remaining four all roll over.

And another thing

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Powered by article was written by , for on Tuesday 5th July 2016 07.01 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010