11 Jul 2016

May to succeed Cameron as PM on Wednesday

David Cameron has just announced that he will leave No. 10 on Wednesday for the last time after Prime Minister’s Questions. He whizzed round to Parliament when Theresa May got back from Birmingham and at 3.20pm met her there in the office that will very soon be hers.

He wished her well and then returned to Downing Street to announce, looking very sombre and emotional, that he would go to see the Queen on Wednesday afternoon to stand down as Prime Minister. He said he was “delighted” the timetable for his succession had been shortened but he looked anything but delighted.

David Cameron said Andrea Leadsom had done the right thing by standing aside. Mrs Leadsom phoned Theresa May just after the Home Secretary had finished her speech in Birmingham and before Mrs Leadsom herself announced her intention to pull out of the leadership contest.

Yesterday she was at a barbecue with friends and family. The hostile tweets from Tory MPs played quite a role in her decision to stand aside, supportive MPs say. They hurt her, made her wonder if it was all worth the candle and suggested that the parliamentary party might be ungovernable. One MP who attended her 11am briefing to core supporters this morning said: “We worried it was going to be like Iain Duncan Smith all over again.”

One supporter of Andrea Leadsom said: “We felt her chances of winning the leadership had (with The Times interview and the antagonism flowing out of Tory MPs) fallen from a 30 per cent chance to a 15 per cent chance. It wasn’t worth the pain and it wasn’t worth the wait for the country.”

Ms Leadsom was clearly tearful and upset about the fall-out from her Times interview, as the Telegraph records in its interview with her published today.

But there was also an acknowledgement that she hadn’t spoken cleverly and hadn’t been managed by a core team on top of their game. One MP supporter said: “She can’t be Chancellor right now, Chief Secretary maybe.”

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The speech that Theresa May had just given in Birmingham was clearer than her leadership bid launch speech on the direction her government might take.

She talks of a “housing deficit” and promises to focus on solutions. She calls for a “proper industrial strategy,” suggesting that Sajid Javid may not be long in his current job. She attacks the way quantitative easing has benefited those who already have a home and hurt those aspiring to have one. There are a number of implied criticisms of George Osborne you might detect in the speech.

She promises “a different kind of Conservatism”, though as I mentioned earlier, it can’t be that different from the 2015 manifesto or she will come under pressure to have another general election.

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