The next Tory leader will have no mandate – and a predecessor who, deep down, wants them to fail
An alien visiting Westminster may conclude that Britain has two classes of citizen – a lay herd that elects parliaments, and a priestly caste, the Conservatives, that anoints prime ministers.That is how Boris Johnson first got the job and it is the method that will name his successor.
The candidate list was ceremonially whittled to three by Tory MPs today – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt (Kemi Badenoch is out). Tomorrow three become two, whereupon the power of investiture is handed to 160,000 party members.
There is nothing improper about this arrangement. Eventually, the new leader will have to face the country. But something can be constitutionally permitted and also ridiculous. Most of the past six years has been an experiment in how absurd politics can get before some unwritten rule imposes sobriety. That limit has yet to be found.