James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

By the time you read this on Thursday evening over a large glass of wine, you will know more about who may be our next Prime Minister.

I have been supporting Andrea Leadsom, who is fresh and honest; and whose Brexit convictions are unassailable. The latter point seems to me to be very important. Like it or not, the people have decided that we will leave the EU. We now need a Leader and PM fully committed to carrying out their will. Andrea would do that.

Theresa May would doubtless be straightforward enough; but would the enthusiasm really be there? Liam Fox would have been the voice of experience, and Stephen Crabb the voice of inexperience. Michael Gove has passion and conviction; but his (apparent) disloyalty to Boris probably rules him out for most decent loyal Conservative Party members (and it is they who must now decide.)

It is alleged around the corridors and souks of Westminster that there are all kinds of shenanigans afoot to ensure Theresa some kind of ‘coronation’ or to ensure that the (probably less popular) Gove will be her opponent at large. I hope that there really is none of that nonsense and that Theresa and Andrea will be the two who offer themselves on the ballot paper. We will see.

What is for certain is that our system for removal and election of our Leader is clearer, quicker, sharper, perhaps more brutal and ruthless than that of the Labour Party. As we were enjoying our Roman Coliseum –like hustings meetings in Committee Room 8 on Monday evening; only yards away down the corridor in Committee Room 14, Labour seemed intent on destroying their own party if they possibly can. It would be wrong of me to intrude on their private grief; but they must be very envious of our system. I fear that there is a real risk of civil war within Labour, or perhaps the party irrevocably splitting. That would be bad for democracy, which demands a strong opposition.

All of this political instability will last for only a short time longer. We need it all over soon after the Summer Recess which starts in a couple of weeks’ time. Mr Cameron is meanwhile a perfectly adequate ‘caretaker Prime Minister’ over the quiet summer period. When we get back, we need to press ahead with the essential EU negotiations; but more important than that we must settle down to deliver the Manifesto on which we were elected only 12 months ago.