Owen Paterson develops checklist for future Tory leader candidates
Senior Conservative backbencher Owen Paterson has revealed he is working on a set of criteria against which he will judge future party leadership candidates.
The former environment secretary told the Spectator’s Coffee House blog his UK 2020 thinktank was developing a series of policy ideas to put to would-be Conservative leaders.
He said: “The idea is that we come up with a framework of robust policies which we can put to and challenge leadership candidates in a couple of years’ time, so do you agree with Owen Paterson’s think tank on this? Because x, x, and x – by then we will have some of these guys – think it is great.”
“That will put quite a lot of pressure on them,” Mr Paterson added.
He denied intending to stand for the leadership himself, saying it is not the “current plan”.
Mr Paterson was sacked from the Cabinet in 2014 and he criticised the existing Tory leadership for being “mealy-mouthed” about the importance of markets.
His comments come after more speculation about when David Cameron will stand down as Tory leader.
The Prime Minister said before the election that he would not seek a third term in 2020, but insisted he would see out the full five years of this parliament.
The Spectator reported today that he intended to announce he was leaving in the spring of2019, but Downing Street has rejected that claim.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “As the Prime Minister said before the election, he will serve a full term. A full term means five years.”
Elsewhere, a poll by Ipsos Mori found that Boris Johnson is the most popular potential leader of the Conservative party among the general public, while George Osborne leads among Tory supporters.