Back-stabbing inside the leaky ship Tory

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The Conservative Party could always keep a secret. Fleet Street has rarely been able to uncover its murky goings-on.

But now, the Tories have become one of the most leaky organisations in the country and what has been revealed about the progress of the leadership battle does not make edifying reading at all.

Michael Gove’s so-called “midnight treachery” towards his Brexiteer colleague Boris Johnson demonstrated how friendships can be destroyed overnight in the back-stabbing world of politics.

But what I fail to understand is why Johnson, in the light of this, decided to quit the contest. Why did he not metaphorically stick two fingers up at Gove and say, “To hell with you, I am going to fight on”?

If Johnson feared humiliation when the votes are counted, so be it, but I think he would have been wrong. My bet is he would still have been Theresa May’s principal challenger and that Gove would have been the sufferer because of what many Tory voters might regard as his reprehensible conduct.

This is borne out by the fact Gove appears to have lost some of the support he gained from Johnson to Andrea Leadsom, who is now second favourite hot on May’s kitten-heels.

Leadsom, an Energy Minister, scarcely heard of outside Westminster, is a hugely competent operator, in the mould of Margaret Thatcher, but she has a massive task in catching up with May who appears to have a commanding lead.

Meanwhile, the other candidates, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox, seem to have quietly disappeared into the wilderness.

And when it comes to U-turns, David Cameron is leading the field. During the campaign, he dramatically echoed Peter Mandelson’s declaration: “I am not a quitter.” Yet the first thing he did after the referendum was quit.

The referendum was barely over before the hordes were marching through central London, with some people saying they wanted a re-run because they had changed their minds about voting Brexit.

They claim to have been misled by the other side, but both sides said things they knew could not be true. That is what politicians do. So they should stop behaving like spoilt brats and accept the result.