Published on 30 Jun 2016

Boris Johnson’s leadership hopes fade

MPs who’d already declared for Boris Johnson, with prominent seats reserved at this morning’s launch, have started deserting the Johnson camp already. Some at the London venue are wondering if his campaign launch planned for 11:30 will go ahead at all.

High amongst the converts is Nick Boles. He tried to convince Michael Gove to run over the weekend but conceded defeat in that task and backed Boris. Now – like others – he is re-thinking.

One Tory MP supporting Theresa May said to me: “Michael Gove has hung a big sign over his campaign launch saying: ‘I’m a shit you can’t trust.'”

Michael Gove’s supporters sensed slippage on Boris Johnson’s part away from where they thought the centre of Leave opinion was. Boris Johnson’s supporters were repeatedly saying in a recent days “we’re not Vote Leave, we’re Team Boris now and it’s very different.” They were also at pains to say that Michael Gove read and approved the Boris Johnson Telegraph article that seemed to want it every which way on Europe in the negotiations. Maybe now they’ll wonder why Michael Gove approved it?

Nothing matches the ruthlessness of a Tory leadership contest in full flight. But you wonder what the world, less versed in these bloodlettings and already pondering our status and wellbeing, makes of it.

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