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The race is on between Johnson and Hunt, but nothing’s changed

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When the European Council granted the UK an extension to the Article 50 deadline, and the council’s president Donald Tusk begged the British public not to waste the opportunity, this phantasmagorical circus of a Tory leadership election was not what they had in mind.

The idea was for Britain to spend some months coming up with a way of breaking the deadlock on Brexit. Instead, our governing party has indulged in a veritable orgy of distraction. All jolly good fun for the leadership candidates, the MPs, the journalists and other inhabitants of the Westminster bubble; plus a masterpiece of precision whipping by Boris Johnson’s point man, Gavin Williamson. It was almost as if the narrowness of the margin of Jeremy Hunt over Michael Gove was achieved by “lending” some of Mr Johnson’s votes to Mr Hunt, and designed to maximise Mr Gove’s pain.

However, the result has not advanced the cause of solving the Brexit crisis. The conclusion was drawn that Theresa May was a rotten salesperson for the “Malthouse compromise”, or some other wheeze to cane the withdrawal agreement, and that everything would be fine with a new salesperson. We shall soon see if Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt will do a better job.

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Which one? Some 160,000 or so members of the Conservative Party, quite outrageously, are about to choose the next prime minister of the UK, on behalf of the........

© Independent