Our Next Prime Minister - Live!

Follow the BBC debate with the Conservative leadership candidates - live with the New Statesman team. 

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Welcome to the New Statesman's liveblog of Britain's Next Prime Minister, the United Kingdom's least sympathetic reality TV show on the air. Press refresh for updates.

21:00: Thank god that's over. Was it really only an hour? Boris Johnson will be the happiest with that, a dire hour of telly in which none of the candidates looked anything close to capable of presenting a meaningful challenge. Rory Stewart never got the time or space to sell himself and looked anything but straight-talking over Donald Trump. Sajid Javid came to life only when the programme was more than half way through. I can't really remember anything Michael Gove did or said because it was, to repeat the worst hour of TV I have ever watched. And I've sat through Resurrection of the Daleks

Thanks for reading! 

20:57: They are all failing to address the "why not have an election?" question, because they all feel unable to say "An election? Which we might well lose? Are you out of your tree?" 

20:56: There are four more minutes of this. I really hope it's not true that your life flashes before your eyes at the moment of your death, because I really don't want to see this debate again. 

20:54: Boris Johnson triangulates a bit on Heathrow expansion: again this feels like an interesting vulnerability that as well as it being a longstanding position of his it has local implications in his Ruislip and Uxbridge seat, which only has a majority of 5,000. 

20:52: The difficulty that Stewart has with the Trump thing is, if your shtick is "I'm the shoot-from-the-hip authentic guy who the social liberals adore" you've really got to be able to handle the "Donald Trump is a wrong un, yes or no?" question better than that. 

20:50: Rory Stewart embarrasses himself over Donald Trump. The new, improved Sajid Javid dismantles him for it. This is all great for Boris Johnson: the surprise package going into the TV debate has had a bit of a mare and the other potentially dangerous candidate only showed up 39 minutes in. 

20:46: Sajid Javid bounces the whole field into backing an independent probe into Islamophobia through sheer confidence. It's funny to think how the order of questions is so much more important than you'd think. Since getting that question about tax cuts Javid has come alive and actually looks like a human being with ideas. Unfortunately for him that turn around momeny came 39 minutes into an hour-long programme. (I know it feels longer.) 

20:45: Boris Johnson is really struggling to explain the case of Nazanin Zaghari Radcliffe. The other candidates have the sense to stay quiet and let him flounder. Bluntly this isn't going to be a problem in this leadership race but it has the makings of a very difficult recurring political subplot. 

20:42: Rory Stewart tries to give one of his big, aren't I reasonable speeches, this time about the need to fix social care by having a cross-party discussion. Michael Gove asks him what his actual plan is and he folds up a little bit. The big difference between tonight and the Channel 4 debate is that the candidates haven't given Stewart the time and the space to do his long, very calming audibook voice speeches and as a result he's been pretty quiet and has blended into the background. 

20:41: God this is dragging. 

20:39: Sajid Javid is alive! He gives a true-blue Thatcherite argument for tax cuts. Take a look at his Laffer curves, ladies and gentlemen. Jeremy Hunt does the concerned family patriarch routine, praising Tina for making society work and saying that the cuts "went too far" and that local authorities need more money. 

20:37: She's done very well for herself by not standing and backing Boris Johnson early enough for it to look principled and not like jumping aboard the inevitable bandwagon but the interesting gap in this race is the absence of Liz Truss. No-one has taken this question on by arguing for further spending reductions - they've instead all danced around the issue. That's partly her absence and partly because some marginal seat MPs are spooked by Corbyn and don't want, for the most part, a no-holds-barred argument in defense of austerity. 

20:35: What do I know? Absolutely nothing. James gives Jeremy Hunt's minor royal routine the thumbs up and tells Rory Stewart he is out of touch. Next: a woman called Tina has a question about mental health provision. 

20:32: Michael Gove flashes ankle to the left of the Tory party talking about his passion for helping the poorest in our society. The problem he has is that he does it very well from a technical perspective but he exists in people's mind as "that guy who did something bad to schools" and it's very, very hard to get out of that. That's why he did so poorly in the post-debate poll of the Channel 4 debate and I'd imagine the same dynamic will play out tonight: probably moreso because it is bittier. 

20:31: Johnson waffles incoherently about tax. No-one could say he was doing this at all well but he doesn't need to: what he needs is for the rest of the field to fail to take the opportunity, and thus far they mostly are. 

20:30: One of the important differences between Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron is that Cameron was very, very good at presenting himself to the country as an upper middle class dad in a Boden jumper when he was actually a lot posher than that. Hunt can't pull it off and has a distinct "minor royal talking to people on a visit" tone in response to this question. 

20:26: They're shouting over each other again and inspiring the same feelings of disgust and intense relief that I will soon be free of them that I do when I spend too much time with my friends' children.

(If you're reading, just kidding!) 

20:22: You can see that Stewart is trying to do what he did in the Channel 4 debate which is cut across the other candidates and very calmly and carefully explain why they are wrong in a reasonable tone of voice. It's not working for two reasons: the first is that Boris Johnson is a lot more comfortable just ignoring it rather than responding, which is what made Dominic Raab look so bad. (Well, it was one of the things that made Dominic Raab look so bad.)

The other problem is that the other candidates have learnt not to stand-off Stewart as they did in the Channel 4 debate, which gives him less space. 

That Emily Maitlis had to cut across the scrum to ask Johnson a follow-up question sums up the problem. 

20:20: This format will suit Boris Johnson down to the ground. Bitty, scratchy, everyone yelling over each other, and plenty of opportunities to channel his "believe in Brexit! believe in the garden bridge!" routine. (See 20:15)

20:19: The cause of the yelling? Rory Stewart saying he would never go for a no deal exit because of the damage it would cause. 

20:18: There is so much discordant yelling between the candidates that the couple in the flat above who have loud sex have come down to complain that it is putting them off. 

20:15: Boris Johnson, of course, can deal with this very easily, by talking about how important it is to get us out, doing his whole "believe!" routine, which happily for him both channels his earlier, near-universally popular incarnation as Mayor (his message to the whole of the Conservative party) and his current, polarising incarnation as the avatar of Vote Leave (his message to his core support in the Conservative party). 

20:13: The strategic problem with Gove's pitch is neatly being exposed by this question. Gove is talking about how important it is that we leave, but he can't wholly dismiss Carmella - thanks Boris Johnson, who did catch her name - because he is also fishing in Remainer waters. 

20:11: Michael Gove's pitch is essentially "I'm the sensible one": emphasising that he campaigned for Brexit before it went mainstream but that he wouldn't seek a no deal exit. And that's our first round. A woman who introduces herself as a mother of three asks why the candidates are even contemplating a no deal Brexit that could cost her husband's job and her children's future. 

20:07: Rory Stewart is doing his "I'm going to speak very slowly and reasonably" thing. I don't know how conscious this is but when David Cameron burst into contention with his no-notes speech at Conservative party conference in 2005, his body language, mannerism, messsage was essentially "I'm your Blair". Stewart is essentially doing a "I'm your Corbyn": straight-talking, not the frontrunner,  etc. Of course, the big difference is that Corbyn was doing that with the grain of his party. 

20:06: A very animated Sajid Javid talks about how important it is to leave on 31 October, because his path to the second ballot runs through former supporters of Dominic Raab. Again, there are no actual specifics because there is no way keep this promise without an election, which Conservative MPs don't want, because they might lose. 

20:04: Jeremy Hunt talks about hope. What you've got to understand about Hunt's bid is that it is essentially The David Cameron Experience. Look at my hair, he is saying. Look at my calm but firm posh demeanour. Look at my delivery that says "I wouldn't do anything too radical". Don't you remember when we used to win elections like this? 

And that's why his answers look like a bad David Cameron impression. 

20:02: The first question is from Lee, who voted for the Brexit party, who wants to know if they can guarantee that Parliament will agree to leave by 31 October. Boris Johnson is first up and he takes the opportunity to repeat his stump speech - if we don't deliver Brexit we're finished, only I can do it, etc. etc. No actual specifics, of course, because he has to keep his ideologically broad coalition of MPs together. 

20:01: And we're off! A truly hateful piece of music is the theme. I hope they haven't replaced the excellent election night music with that. The election night music makes me feel sick and nauseous because of the many terrible results I have covered after it. This music just made me feel sick and nauseous. 

19:59: Huh, I didn't know Liz Truss was moonlighting in a crime drama called London Kills

19:57: The programme hasn't actually started yet so this is really just a liveblog of Eastenders. Sharon is still on it! Phil Mitchell is alive! (Again?) Whoever Danny Dyer plays is booking an assessment for his son. 

19:55: Hullo! We're liveblogging tonight's televised debate of the Conservative leadership campaign. We'll be discussing what the five candidates - Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid - are doing and why, what they're aiming to achieve with it. Basically we're like the colour commentary section of of a football match but instead of a grizzled ex-pro who played for Liverpool in the 1980s you have me. 

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.