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A leadership contest that may solve nothing, says Robert Peston

Boris Johnson is riding high as the hot favourite to succeed Theresa May. Credit: PA

Theresa May has been forced from office by her own MPs because they concluded there would be no progress on delivering Brexit, or on anything important, while she remained their leader.

But if they thought her government was characterised by factionalism and chaos, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

Because the big facts of her failed government - no majority in parliament, religious divisions on how to leave the EU - cannot be wished away.

The Buddha would struggle to pacify and unite her fractious party. And the Buddha is unusual in not running to be Tory leader.

The coming weeks of battle for the Tory crown, which officially starts 10 June but is already happening in guerrilla skirmishes, will make Game of Thrones seem as tame as Teletubbies.

The point is that in a leadership contest, all pretence of ministerial unity and collective cabinet responsibility will go.

For weeks, there will be GINO, or government in name only, as the candidates argue over what their party is and should be, what’s wrong with Britain and how to fix it.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson once shared a Cabinet table Credit: PA

Ministers are already setting out their mutually contradictory stalls in public and private conversations.

“There is no way I won’t be calling out the idiotic beliefs of some of esteemed colleagues,” one said to me.

In the wake of EU parliamentary elections in which the Tories know they have been utterly humiliated, trailing in fourth or possibly fifth place, the fragile Tory brand - standing above all else for pragmatism - risks being Ratnered (or totally trashed).

We will have exposed, perhaps even more starkly than in recent weeks and months, that there is no possible Tory consensus on Brexit.

A Brexiter will be the Tories’ next leader - and right now that Brexiter seems to have a mop of white hair and a gift for the gaffe.

But absent a general election that could - but may not - deliver him or her a majority, that Brexiter leader will be no more able to govern than the incumbent who just wept when bidding farewell.

Perhaps, after all, she was weeping for her party.