On Friday morning, in a move that surprised absolutely no-one, Theresa May announced her resignation. Her voice cracking, May told the British public that she had served the country with “no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude”, before spinning on her heel and robot-walking into Number 10 for the last time.
As the dust settles from May's resignation and we await inevitable confirmation that the Conservatives got absolutely hammered in yesterday’s EU election, it's time to gear up for our favourite gladiatorial contest (if the Roman gladiators were incompetent buffoons battering each other to death with terrible soundbites): a Tory leadership contest! Who has the cunning and malice to lead the Conservatives out of their current and entirely deserved morass? We ranked the contenders below, in order of awfulness.
Rumour has it that the reason Theresa May clung on to power for so long was because she was desperate not to let Boris Johnson become Prime Minister. If so, it may be the only truly noble thing she’s ever done. Letting Johnson run amok as Prime Minister would unleash more Big Chaos Energy then, say, a minor nuclear catastrophe.
If May hoped that entrusting Johnson with the Foreign Office brief might encourage him to put his big boy panties on and stop larking around on zip-wires, she was wrong. In his time at one of the most important ministerial offices of state, Johnson managed to get extra charges levelled on a British citizen languishing in an Iranian jail, made a gaffe about stepping over dead Libyans as the country recovered from a civil war that had killed thousands, and was widely derided after being captured on camera filming a Foreign Office video more cringe-inducing than the Alan Partridge reboot.
This is just his recent legacy. Obviously, the most venal and self-serving thing Johnson has ever done was switch his allegiances to campaign for Brexit in a last-minute move almost definitely motivated by his own leadership ambitions, and which arguably swung the public vote towards our nationwide decision to commit economic seppuku by leaving the European Union. Make no mistake: Johnson isn’t just a bungling idiot – he’s totally amoral to boot. Which means he’ll probably win. Avoid at all costs.
Verdict: 10/10 awful human being. Will probably win.
In any other government, Jeremy Hunt would be the worst Cabinet minister of all time, so I guess it’s testament to how shit-awful the Tories are that Hunt isn’t currently languishing in backbench oblivion. Hunt’s rap sheet is long: As Health Secretary, Hunt helped dismantle the NHS, and presided over a winter crisis he admitted was the “worst ever”. In 2010, he also suggested that the 96 football fans who tragically died at Hillsborough were football hooligans (they were not). Hunt is so toxic he joins George Osborne and Theresa May as one of only three politicians to be booed at the 2012 Paralympics.
Verdict: 9/10. I will claw out my own eyes if he wins.
When he’s not busy illegally denying British citizenship to innocent babies and leaving them to die in refugee camps, Javid likes nothing better than stifling investigations into Islamophobia within his own party, or making racially incendiary comments about Asian paedophile gangs. Javid doesn’t like to trouble himself with the ethics of whipping up racial controversy or breaking our citizenship laws in order to project a strong, leaderlike countenance — and neither should you.
Verdict: 8.5/10. Won't win as Tory voters are still too racist to vote for someone who isn't white, IMO.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Tory in possession of leadership ambitions must pose with his wife in a tasteful kitchen photoshoot. Raab’s contribution to the Tories-in-kitchens-with-wives-genre was a beauty: pastel hues! Matching shirts! Mid-century stools! Truly, Raab’s photoshoot had it all.
But who is Dominic Raab, really? Before the former Raab resigned as Brexit secretary – not over his inability to deliver Brexit, which, after all, was his ministerial brief – but in criticism of the deal he himself had helped to negotiate, the most we knew about Raab was that he tried to get affirmative access work experience schemes scrapped in the Foreign Office. He also attempted to get his email address taken offline, making it harder for constituents to contact him to, you know, get him to do his job. I think a lot, and often, about why I hate Raab, and it’s hard to articulate why I feel so strongly about him, but I think it comes down to the fact he’s just about the most mediocre person imaginable. A veritable sinkhole of a man.
Verdict: 7/10. May win votes from people who misread “bland impassiveness” for intelligence.
Verdict: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA (6/10. Too weaselly to command respect.)
Bit of a lark, isn’t Penny Mordaunt, old chum? Loves a bit of the old banter with her old Navy gang? The Secretary of State for Defence and Portsmouth North MP first came to public attention after appearing on ITV diving reality show Splash!. Mysteriously, I can find only one video of her online, uploaded by a YouTuber who audibly sniggers over the recording as Mordaunt savagely belly-flops into the pool. Sadly, this probably prefigures her getting slam-dunked in the Tory leadership contest. She's too green to round up enough support, even if she does have #ladpoints for being the first banter merchant to say “cock” six times in the House of Commons as part of a bet with her squaddie mates.
Verdict: 2/10. Has the banter but not the votes.