Cabinet members in alleged plot to have Boris Johnson crowned leader without contest
Cabinet ministers are reportedly plotting to ensure Boris Johnson is crowned unopposed when party members vote in the Conservative leadership election.
Senior ministers who have not backed any of the six remaining names in the race want to avoid handing ammunition to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn with weeks of “blue on blue” attacks that could leave the eventual Tory leader weakened, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The plan, allegedly hatched in the whip’s office, is for the other five contenders to drop out next week, leaving Mr Johnson to sweep up in a “confirmatory ballot” of the party’s 160,000 members.
Persuading Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis is the plan’s biggest hurdle, according to the Telegraph.
Mr Johnson emerged from the first leadership ballot with a huge lead in the race, scooping up the support of 114 Tory MPs on Thursday, with his nearest rival Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt securing just 43.
Explaining his decision to duck a Channel 4 leadership debate, he said: "The public have had quite a lot of 'blue on blue' action frankly over the last three years. We don't necessarily need a lot more of that."
Leadership contender Rory Stewart, who won 19 votes in Thursday’s ballot, opposed the plan on Twitter last night, saying: "Please write to your MP if you think this is not a good idea and please RT [retweet] if you think anyone else might think this is not a good idea."
Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May was crowned in the last Tory leadership race in 2016 when her last opponent, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out before the membership vote.
The next round of voting to choose her replacement is due to take place on Tuesday.