It’s a Fight for the Right and Net Zero could be a victim

From  the London Playbook

FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT: MPs head back to Westminster this morning with the race to be the next prime minister about to hit full throttle. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has finally announced her bid for Downing Street, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch have clinched major endorsements and onlookers are asking themselves: Who the hell is Rehman Chishti? The temperature gauge will edge up another notch tonight when Conservative bosses announce the rules of engagement — but don’t expect bitter briefing against rivals, accusations and recriminations to be outlawed. The Tories wouldn’t be able to handle a contest without gnawing lumps out of each other.

All in a spin: The number of MPs still to decide which candidate to support is fast diminishing, which means most of the people Playbook spoke to last night were spinning like mad. Others who are still to back a horse used words like “ridiculous” and “mental” to describe the ballooning circus of hopefuls, and were finding the smorgasbord of right-wing crazies overwhelming. No one had the faintest idea who might win the thing, or if the last Conservative standing would be up to the job. “You need people with experience and humility in the final two,” one minister quipped. “But those aren’t characteristics that are common in people who think they could be prime minister.”

On that note … Chair of the committee on standards in public life Lord Jonathan Evans told the Week in Westminster last night that after the Boris Johnson era, a new PM must show that “public standards are going to be very high on their agenda.” On the Andrew Neil Show on Channel 4, former Chancellor George Osborne said the Tories must “drain the poison” of Johnson’s period in office.

One thing is for certain: The U.K. is showing little sign of shifting to the center ground anytime soon, as my POLITICO colleague Annabelle Dickson writes in her take on the pledges made so far. She brands it “a heady mix of tax-cutting, woke-bashing and Brexit-backing policies.” It’s no surprise Conservatives Zac Goldsmith and Chris Skidmore are terrified the fight for net zero will be a victim in the leadership race.