As soon as I was awakened by my alarm this morning, I realised that it was raining quite heavily. Early on Sunday mornings, I walk down in order to collect our Sunday newspaper but was soon brought to realise that it was not only raining with intensity but I was shortly to get as wet as the proverbial drowned rat. In fact, it was raining so hard that you could hear the water gurgling down the drains which, in places, failed to cope. You have thought that walking down a pavement would have been unproblematic but the excess of surface water in various places meant that you had to keep a careful eye on the traffic lest a passing vehicle send a ‘whoosh’ of water all over you. Nonetheless, I consoled myself with some of the tracks on my trusty old iPhone which gave me a selection of old favourites. One of these was the Halleluja chorus from Handel’s Messiah which always puts me in mind of the Huddersfield Choral Society and how Meg and I used to whiz through the environs of Hudderfield on our scooter when we made the journey on our trusty old Lambretta scooter from Manchester to Leeds in the 1960’s. At the same time, I heard ‘Zadoc the Priest‘ first composed as a coronation anthem played for George II and I believe played at every coronation since then. The ‘anthem’ starts with a lot of ‘tum ti tums’ which you can imagine as background music whilst everyone was waiting in their seats in the Abbey until the choir bursts forth. When I did eventually reach the newsagent, it was a frustrating time both for him and for myself as his supply of newspapers had not been delivered. He was feeling somewhat upset (and with good reason) as when he phoned his suppliers to ask/complain, all that happened was that the phone was put down on him. When I got home, I had to strip off most of my clothes which were wringing wet and I put them straight into the washing machine before a drying out. After this thorough soaking, it was especially nice to change into some nice dry clothes. Then Meg and I had breakfasted and watched the Sunday (politics) programme, after which I popped down to Waitrose to pick up the Sunday Times and I also took the opportunity to replenish some other supplies.
Attempting to comment on the ‘race to No. 10’ rather puts me in the positon of a sports reporter who is having to predict the result of, say, a Rugby match which is only two thirds played. Concentrating on what we do know, though, it is the case that Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson had a long meeting last night, starting at about 8.00pm and going on for a couple of hours but what was decided between the two, if anything, has not been revealed by either side. Perhaps each was playing a game of ‘chicken’ with the other to see who blinks first. Johnson may have felt that his strongest card was that if he were to reach 100 nominations, he would probably win when the vote goes to the constituency associations. On the other hand, Rishi Sunak is piling up nominations for himself and probably feels that he has to say nothing, and to concede less. As today has progressed, Rishi Sunak has gained the support of influential figures on the right of the party such as Steve Baker, ex-chair of the ERG (European Research Group who are composed of Eurosceptics in the vanguard of Brexit) and Suella Braverman, the ex-Home Secretary (also from the right of the party) As I write, the declared figures seem to be 142 declared for Sunak (well over the 100 bar), Johnson on 59 (well under the bar). Also the Johnson camp are claiming that they have 100 nominations in the bag, it seems odd that they are not publishing these names or figures so perhaps there is a certain of ‘spin’ going on. There is also an account of a telephone call from the Johnson camp to Penny Mordaunt (who is a long way behind) asking her to swing her supporters the Johnson way in return, no doubt, for a lucrative top cabinet post. The Mordaunt camp have refused this outright, adding that most of the supporters will not be ‘delivered’ to Johnson but would probably break for Rishi Sunak anyway. There is also the issue of the Committee of Privileges investigation of Boris Johnson which is really hanging over him because were Johnson to be elected as Prime Minister then within weeks he might have to be suspended from the House of Commons, his constituency seat subject to recall and he will probably lose the bye-election. Another factor to be taken into account and which will be revealed in the Andrew Neil Politics programme tonight is the threat, in the face of a Johnson victory, to side with the opposition and either cross the floor of the House of Commons or simply to refuse to support a Johnson government in the face of an Opposition confidence motion in th House of Commons which would certainly generate a General Election. More will be revealed hour by hour but that is the latest state of play.