In the middle of the Tories' existential crisis, a leadership election is taking place. The party will need a leader who will deliver Brexit and restore the party's electoral hopes.
Two candidates have already courted controversy in the media by confessing to taking drugs. As outrageous as it may be to imagine the likes of Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom indulging in such crimes, it is largely irrelevant. These are minor infringes that happened over 20 years ago. It is difficult to imagine why the candidates would come out and admit such a thing. It may be to alleviate the embarrassment of this knowledge being disclosed during their time as Prime Minister. Cynically, many suspect it is a ploy to seem more relatable to the general public.
On to a more important point.
The next Prime Minister will have a career at least partly defined by Brexit. The issue is taking the forefront in these elections. The next Conservative leader will have to take a strong line on the issue. The next general election that takes place may well see the Conservatives battle against the Brexit Party. The new party had a strong presence leading up to the Peterborough by-election and proved it could shore up support among leave-voting constituencies.
However, in marginal seats, the Brexit party will split the leave vote and could see Labour slip into seats with small majorities - as already seen in Peterborough. An orderly delivery of Brexit will stop this happening. The new Prime Minister must take a strong position on Brexit; it would be wise to take nothing off the table.
The Europeans have already rejected the prospect of further negotiations on May’s deal and would likely scoff at another leader's proposal. No deal may be our only option. The proroguing of parliament, which involves the queen shutting parliament, could be used to force through a no deal. This may sound like an extreme option, but it has been used before to pass important legislation. It would help a minority government prevent further delays to Brexit.
If another referendum takes place or we do not leave by October, the Conservative Party will be destroyed. Perhaps the Labour Party will be destroyed as well. The only ones who will benefit from this will be the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems, both of whom have defined their identities around Brexit.
It would also be good to see a return to the more conservative aspects of the party. Instead of seeking to outspend the Labour Party, to appease the left, the Tories must seek to create a dynamic alternative to the radically socialist politics of Corbyn. A return to fiscal conservatism could work in the Conservatives’ favour.
A radically different policy of tax cuts and increases in personal allowances could win back workers who would otherwise be persuaded by Corbyn's Labour Party. Policies to increase homeownership could win back another generation of voters who have felt abandoned by mainstream politics. A return to austerity isn't necessary, but a more sustainable approach to funding would help the image of the Conservatives being reliable on the economy.
The next Conservative leader will be in for a rough ride, but the future of the party is in their hands.
Although now it seems clear who the main contenders are, it is common in leadership elections for relative underdogs to gain traction. Any one of the leadership contenders could soon have the keys to Number Ten.