Put the opium pipe away, the dream is dead: HENRY DEEDES sees contestants dwindle to the last four

Put the opium pipe away, the dream is dead: HENRY DEEDES sees contestants dwindle to the last four

Rory Stewart's dream of becoming Tory leader is over - for now - after Wednesday's vote Hang up your kilts, put away those opium pipes. Rory St

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Rory Stewart's dream of becoming Tory leader is over - for now - after Wednesday's vote

Rory Stewart's dream of becoming Tory leader is over - for now - after Wednesday's vote

Rory Stewart’s dream of becoming Tory leader is over – for now – after Wednesday’s vote

Hang up your kilts, put away those opium pipes. Rory Stewart’s dream died last night inside a lavish room in the Palace of Westminster.

The man from nowhere, whose quirky leadership campaign sent a 500-volt charge through this contest, was officially eliminated at precisely 6.02pm.

It was stately Charles Walker (Broxbourne) who did the honours. As a hundred hacks and MPs gathered for the result, Walker announced in his pukka, courtier-like tones that Mr Stewart had managed 27 votes.

Gasps. That was ten fewer than the previous round.

Parliament’s corridors pinged to the sound of conspiracy theories. Had the International Development Secretary’s oddball appearance in the BBC’s dire leadership debate the night before put the frighteners on some? Had Boris’s goons issued a ‘Stop Rory’ fatwa?

Search me. All we know for now is the next prime minister of the United Kingdom will not be ex-diplomat, nomad and royal confidante Rory Stewart.

Exit con brio, as they say in musical circles.

All didn’t seem well chez Rory during the vote. In previous ballots he was there joshing with journalists, drumming up some last-minute support. Yesterday he was absent until the end.

He looked strained. Mildly fed up. When anyone asked of his prospects, he made hedged references to the ‘dark arts’ of politics.

The other candidates, by contrast, were chipper.

Sajid Javid, sauntering along with a Yul Brynner swagger, looked boisterous. ‘I’m very confident,’ he announced. He even stopped for selfies.

Jeremy Hunt flexed his arms like Big Daddy, indicating that all was tickety-boo.

Michael Gove, asked how he was feeling, replied: ‘Chavin awa’.’ This is Doric, the Aberdonian dialect, for ‘working away’.

Naturally we all had to Google it. Boris appeared in the distance, accompanied by his reliable Moneypenny, Conor Burns (Bournemouth West). He was practising a few imaginary forward defence shots, though for whose benefit it wasn’t clear.

Boris Johnson is way ahead of his rivals in the Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson is way ahead of his rivals in the Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson is way ahead of his rivals in the Tory leadership race

When he emerged from the voting lobby, we even got a word out of him this time.

‘Happy birthday!’ Someone shouted. ‘Thanks very much,’ he mumbled. Despite the dreary weather, summer outfits were getting an airing.

Sir Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) was dressed like the Man from Del Monte.

Liz Truss wore a pair of pink pantaloons – apologies… culottes, says my fashion expert. Andrea Leadsom was in bright mint green.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a recent radical convert to the Boris cause, appeared to go through the lobby twice.

‘I forgot my telephone,’ he pleaded, holding the device aloft for all to examine.

Svelte Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) appeared arm-in-arm with glamourpuss Gillian Keegan (Chichester).

As a reluctantly reformed trencherman, he may not thank me for reporting that one of his paws made a sudden grab for some chocolate biccies which had been idly discarded on one of the teller’s desks.

Suddenly, a parting of waves and Theresa May (remember her?) appeared.

‘I told you yesterday… none of your business!’ the PM cried when asked how she voted, exactly as she has done on previous occasions.

It’s like yanking a string on a doll and getting the same remark each time.

The atmosphere was less tense and more languid than the day before. Perhaps it was the muggy air. Or perhaps members are just keen for it all to end.

Justine Greening (Putney) joked: ‘It’s a bit like choosing a Pope, isn’t it?’

Oh, if only it was so simple. We finally learn who the run-off will be between this evening.

Amid all the hullaballoo, I almost forgot about PMQs, though I wasn’t alone in my indifference – Sky News didn’t even bother broadcasting it.

One noteworthy moment, however, was when SNP showboater Ian Blackford accused Boris of being racist vermin. Speaker Bercow suggested he retract his remarks, indicating the chamber wasn’t the appropriate place to make such an accusation.

He didn’t, yet Bercow allowed him to remain. The disappointment on Blackers’ face at not being ejected was a picture.

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