Westminster diary: Who the region’s Conservative MPs are backing in the latest race to be PM

Trudy Harrison, David Mundell and John Lamont have all announced their preferred candidate. Credit: PA Images

Here we go again.

Less than seven weeks since Liz Truss won the last Conservative leadership contest, she’s packing up her possessions in Downing Street, and the race to become the next Prime Minister is well underway.

Tory party members may well decide things again, in an online vote scheduled for next week.

First, candidates have until 2pm on Monday to get nominations from 100 Conservative MPs, and our local Tories have been making their endorsements.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson and Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell are both backing former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with the former saying: “These are serious times and we need a serious and competent Prime Minister.”

Scottish Borders MP John Lamont and Penrith & The Border MP Neil Hudson are both supporting cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt.

Mr Lamont says he believes: “She has the experience and vision to unite our country.”

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison backed Ms Mordaunt in the summer, but now says she wants Boris Johnson back in No10.

She was his parliamentary assistant for part of his time in office, and says: “My hope… is that we recognise who the public voted for by such a strong majority in 2019.”

Workington MP Mark Jenkinson says his role as a government whip means he must stay neutral publicly, but I’m sure he will be privately supporting Mr Johnson, having continued to defend him throughout the scandals that enveloped his premiership

Dumfries & Galloway MP, and Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack has also not endorsed anyone publicly, but has long been a strong Johnson supporter.

Finally, the South Lakes Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron is calling for a general election, saying: “Our country deserves and desperately needs a government that is competent and compassionate.”

Opposition parties are pretty united in that demand, but a general election is very unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the Conservatives still have a substantial majority in parliament and are way behind in the opinion polls.

By Friday, and perhaps earlier, another Conservative Prime Minister will be in place. 

Remarkably, it could be an old one back again so soon

Boris Johnson could be set to make a return to Downing Street. Credit: PA Images

Right now, it’s difficult to say what impact the upheaval at Westminster will have in our region, at least until the identity of the next PM is confirmed.

One of Liz Truss’ ideas for growing the economy was ‘Investment Zones’ - areas with lower taxes and looser planning rules to try to stimulate growth.

West Cumbria is in the running, but it’s unclear if the policy will survive.

The latest changes at the top of government could also mean another delay to the decision over whether to give approval to a controversial new coal mine in Whitehaven.

Earlier this week, the government told me the deadline of 8 November is still in place.

Communities Secretary Simon Clarke is responsible for deciding whether to give the go-ahead, but the new Prime Minister may not keep him in that post.

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