Monday 20 February 2017

It doesn't matter what side the next PM was on in the poll - all Tories are Leavers now

William Hague

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

Protesters demonstrate over the referendum result in London. Photo: Reuters
Protesters demonstrate over the referendum result in London. Photo: Reuters

Even in grim times, few things are as exhilarating as being the dark horse in a Tory leadership election - provided you are thundering up behind your rivals at breakneck speed.

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In a first ballot, such as that due today, beating expectations can be vital to establishing momentum into a second ballot. One of my own techniques for achieving this in 1997 was to keep a solid core of secret votes in my back-pocket - not even telling my own team about some of the pledges of support I had received from other MPs. They then reacted with surprised delight to the result, to a degree that could not be faked, or leaked in advance.

We will soon see if any dark horse has made it through the pack this time, but whatever happens there is one crucial thought that Britain and the world have to get used to: regardless of who is the next Conservative leader, the UK is leaving the European Union.

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