Is the Tory leadership race still on?sento
Well, well, well. This is rather interesting.
For a while Boris Johnson’s camp has been trying not to look complacent, but expecting that the majority of Tory activists would have chosen their man very quickly.
His challenger Jeremy Hunt was frustrated because he too believed that most members of the party would have decided by now, so he had only a limited time to make a difference to the dynamic.
But I understand that, although the ballots started landing on doormats a week ago, the actual number of votes that have been cast and returned is well under 50% – a far slower response rate than the party had expected.
Conservative Party HQ would not comment on the numbers officially. There is also, one source points out, a difference between ballots arriving at the party’s Westminster HQ and actually making it to the returns centre, where the counting will take place.
The final result, the mandate of whoever ends up winning, is of course of enormous political sensitivity.
And a survey of a sample of Tory voters carried out by the true-blue website Conservative Home suggests actually a far bigger slice of the membership has made its mind up.
But the suggestion that voting has been slower than expected implies that Tory members have been rather more hesitant in making up their minds than most MPs believed they would.
Anecdotal evidence still suggests that Mr Johnson is the clear front runner, and Mr Hunt would need an enormous game-changing moment to have a real chance.
As you’d expect, the information has been seized on by the Hunt camp, the foreign secretary tweeting: “It’s all to play for.”
That is, maybe, a rather heroic suggestion, but with 10 days to go, the contest to become the next prime minister is possibly more open than had previously been assumed.