And then there were eight. A week after his resignation triggered the torrent that brought down Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid is stuck on the backbenches with his hopes of becoming prime minister in tatters. The former chancellor, health secretary, home secretary, culture secretary and housing secretary failed to get the requisite 20 Conservative MPs to nominate him and has withdrawn from the Conservative leadership race.
The eight successful candidates will now proceed to tomorrow’s first round of voting, in which they will need the support of at least 30 of the Tories’ 358 MPs.
Javid’s pitch was a combination of integrity in public life and tax cuts. His experience was attractive but he was seen by some as uncharismatic. In a crowded field and with a curtailed election timetable that rewards novelty and noise, Javid’s “New Conservative Economic Plan” didn’t cut it. Instead, this highly experienced politician has lost out to those with no cabinet experience (Kemi Badenoch) and with no ministerial experience (Tom Tugendhat).
What does this tell us? Rishi Sunak has hoovered up the limited number of establishment votes, leaving others (such as Javid and Jeremy Hunt, who has made it to the first round) without a critical mass of MPs. Many other Tories are looking for a candidate with distance from the past ten years. They are turning to less experienced candidates such as Penny Mordaunt, Tugendhat and Badenoch.
Javid and his supporters will now have to decide who to throw their weight behind and the scramble for their votes has already begun.