πŸ”’ Simon Lincoln Reader: UK’s Raab v Boris – SA’s noxious choices for Ramaphosa

Here’s Simon Lincoln Reader’s regular assessment of the political scene in the UK (where he lives) and SA (where he comes from). The dominant themes are Theresa May’s unlamented departure; the two heavy hitters who lead the succession race; and some unenviable cabinet choices for the man putting together the new Ramaphosa cabinet. – Alec Hogg

AH: Simon, you engage with a lot of people in the political scene with London insiders who know what’s going on behind the scenes, behind the cameras. What are they making of Theresa May’s departure.

SLR: There isn’t too much sadness.

For a while now… you need to get back to the Spectator article in September last year. There has always been a perception that she has been robotic and that she has been pedestrian in the leadership of the party. We are faced now with obviously the succession debate that has captured everyone’s attention.

There are, as of this morning, 10 individuals in the Conservative Party lining up to succeed her. Theresa May is in Brussels today. What do you do in that position. Alec you go ahead. You’re nobody.

They’ve never taken her seriously in Brussels which I think is half the problem. She’s always treated them with far more respect than they deserve. She hasn’t negotiated hard enough. She didn’t put the right people to negotiate there. So if you want to know what the mood is like with her departure it can’t come soon enough.

What about Boris. He’s the frontrunner. Is he likely to get it?

You have to look at the grassroots, the Tory associations. On the 15th of June there was scheduled to be a no confidence vote for Theresa May. That obviously does no longer apply. But the people that called for it, agitating for that are really behind one person. I don’t know to be totally honest with why they find Boris such an attractive feature. Maybe it’s because I’m not from here. But I see that the guy is at sixes and sevens on certain issues and they are very serious issues where he doesn’t meet my criteria.

You know he even walks like Winston Churchill, he wrote a biography on Churchill. He admires the man. Is he trying to be Churchillian in this time of Britain’s need?

That traces back to his Oxford days. He’s always been enamoured with the idea of Churchill. He’s always wanted to be seen as the hero of British politics. He’s written extraordinarily good books. Some of his books I couldn’t put down.

But unfortunately what does Britain need at the moment? How do you find your way out of this position? I think you need a tactician and my personal choice is not any of the candidates who have stood up, I don’t believe that any single one of them including Dominic Raab has the right temperament and technical ability.

There are two I think certainly which are, Sajid Javid the deputy chairman of the European Research Group within the Tory Party and the woman who I think should really be is Andrea Leadsom and she’s fabulous, she’s technically able as she understands the numbers and you know personally I’ve thought that a woman is the right person for the position of British Prime Minister probably because I’m still very much a Thatcherite but I think she would be an outstanding leader.

Simon, I don’t think you get a vote. So who are they likely to vote in?

Boris or Dominic Raab are the two frontrunners. Now as you know with these things that the other cabinet ministers were employees rather lined up to support a candidate.

And as of this morning Dominic Raab has the highest number of MPs supporting him, for a second then give people like Esther McVey and then at the very end people like Rory Stewart who I don’t think are going to get any but.

But certainly at the very front of the queue is Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson. So who is Dominic Raab. He is an interesting guy. He was previously Greek secretary before he quit in protest. He’s a black belt karate. He’s had a couple of controversial statements about Brexit and he’s got positions on popular subjects like identity politics which I know people want to hear. Not a fan of being politically correct. He’s a lawyer and an Oxbridge graduate. You know you can look at him, you look at his track record and you can see why people are lining up to support him. Whether or not he has the ideas for Brexit. And that’s why it’s turned into being a pursuit of ideas and how will we break the impasse. And if he has votes then you know he’ll get through but if he doesn’t.

We’re stuck where we are aren’t we.

Is he likely to be a kind of candidate who would be able to see off the Labour Party in the next election.

That’s a very good question. I don’t know, the Labour Party took a hammering in the European elections along with the conservatives. The two main parties were really battered by the Brexit party and the Liberal Democrats. You can’t really tell what Labour can spring as a result of that but I fear that the dilly dallying and the uncertainty on Brexit has cost them, whether they pose the threat that they did in 2017. I don’t know whether Jeremy Corbyn. You know it’s not a big issue that the draft will have someone like him as an Opposition in Parliament.

So let’s talk a bit about those European elections. The Brexit party of Nigel Farage having a great showing there. Does this extrapolate into a serious contender in the next election in the UK or was it a bit of a one off.

Well you know he says that unless there is airtime given to the Brexit party on the issue of Brexit he will challenge at the next general election.

If you recall in 2014 Farage was the leader of UKIP which won the European elections and it was a year later they had the general election and UKIP didn’t feature.

So if you were to compare and contrast their performance what would a movement like this do in the general election. It’s difficult to say unless there is move to departure was a no deal and Farage threatens to run in the next general election. Who knows maybe he’s made enough of an impact for people to say if that’s what you do in the European election. Let’s see what you can do in in Westminster.

All right and moving over to South Africa we haven’t yet heard who’s in Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet. He’s giving himself the full five days to make that decision. But he’s already said that some of the more noxious characters are not going to be there. What are you making of all of this.

You know I find that the I think David Mabuza it’s who knows what’s happening there whether the integrity commission is going to clear him or not.

But the more noxious characters who actually had a chance to reshape the cabinet post 2018. And I’m not sure whether anyone in that cabinet qualified as not.

You know does he get to choose better candidates than he already chose. I hope so. I hope Tito Mboweni remains because he does say a lot of stupid things on social media but the markets have I have confidence in him.

Pravin Gordhan I know that the behaviour on the subject of a public report protectors report is absolutely peculiar. I don’t think that you can risk it. I hope that he would you know. So cabinet positions first and foremost with people who have an understanding of what public services is about. An understanding about how to manage systems to appoint the right people around them. Director Generals have emphasised relationships, cohesive IT systems so that we we don’t have crises like we’ve gotten at the Home Affairs at the moment.

When you say that some of the more noxious people are out of the way but you don’t sound terribly convinced that Ramaphosa is going to be putting in the right people. How is it viewed from the UK. Those who are following the South African story.

Well there are. I spoke with Raymond Parsons who’s head of the Northwest UniversityΒ  school the other day. And he made a very interesting point. There are two features here. The first is that you need the optic of prosecutions to show seriousness about good governance and that you are prepared to eradicate all leads. That’s one thing you need to back up with solid economic growth.

You need to trash policies that have been counter productive to GDP. You need to create the right environment to enable economic growth. And I think that the first thing that people are looking out for is a precedent on the issue of corruption. We need to see people like Brian Molefe being hauled in front of the courts and and then work behind the scenes and you need to start making money and protecting what you already have. Those are the two things.