David Davis Predicts Boris Johnson And Theresa May Won't Be Next Tory Leader


Beyond The Ballot is The Huffington Post UK's alternative take on the UK General Election 2015, taking on the issues too awkward for Westminster. It focuses on the unanswered questions around internet freedoms, mental health and housing. Election news, blogs, polls and predictions are combined with in-depth coverage of our three issues including roundtable debates, MP interviews and analysis.

Senior Tory MP David Davis, who challenged David Cameron for the leadership of the party in 2005, has predicted none of the front-runners to succeed the prime minister will actually get the top job — but also ruled himself out of the race.

In an interview before Cameron's surprise announcement yesterday that he would not seek a third term, to be published in full today as part of the HuffPost UK's election series, Beyond The Ballot, Davis admitted that there have already been "murmurings about, if we lose the election, who will be the next leader?"

Home secretary Theresa May, London mayor Boris Johnson and chancellor George Osborne are seen as the favourites to take over from Cameron and were named as his potential successors yesterday by the prime minister.

However, Davis who has a high public profile for his campaigning on civil liberties and free expression, appeared to dismiss the chances of the Johnson, May and Osborne.

"I can guarantee it will be someone we haven’t thought of," he said. "They are the people who win, that don’t have enemies or any previous. That’s why it can be disadvantageous to be known for something."

Conservative MP David Davis

One of the candidates conspicuously absent from the PM's list of potential successors is the erudite and inoffensive Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, a poster boy for "aspirational Conservatism" as the son of an immigrant bus driver who became a city banker.

It was rumoured earlier in this parliament that Davis could himself fancy another run at the party leadership, having come second in the 2005 leadership election, beating Cameron in the first ballot.

But the former shadow home secretary laughed off suggestion he would stand. "Ha, no, I’m not," he said, when asked directly.

Davis revealed he gets letters every week from Ukip members asking him to take over the leadership of the party from Nigel Farage - an offer he rejects.

The MP for Haltemprice and Howden said he had “no idea” which party would clinch victory in May, and said he had “never known a more unpredictable election”. But he said he was concerned that the Tory leadership were not setting out a “vision for the future” and cautioned against repeating the mistakes of the ‘No’ campaign in the Scottish referendum.

“For some reason, we are not getting political credit for the economic recovery,” he said, and scribbled a graph on the back of a piece of paper to show how economic confidence seemed to make little to no difference to the Tories’ polling numbers.

“It does not seem to have affected our share of the vote at all and this is normally what we win elections on, on the economy. Something is going on, and I don’t know what it is.

“Things actually are getting better and we need to talk it up, and mention it all the time. But also we have to build a vision for the future. We saw the risks of negative campaigning at the Scottish referendum. It was a disaster.”

In a wide-ranging profile interview examining key issues that are ignored by the major parties, Davis criticised the digital deficit in British lawmaking.

Davis, who said he was deeply concerned about the ongoing mass surveillance powers granted by Parliament to the security services despite a “grotesque misunderstanding” of digital issues by the “majority” of MPs, said the Tories needed to be strong on liberal issues like privacy.

But at the Ukip Spring conference, the ex-Tory MP Douglas Carswell had suggested his Eurosceptic party could offer the “classic liberal” alternative.

“I get weekly letters from people asking me to join Ukip, and even to lead Ukip,” Davis said of Carswell’s speech. “So there are obviously people in Ukip who are attracted to my package of things. But it’s never ever going to happen.

“I don’t think he’ll be able to make Ukip the classic liberal party because some of his members think exactly the opposite. I don’t like insulting other parties too much, but they have attracted, shall we say, a spectrum of people.

“And I am conceited enough to think that if you asked members of the public which out of me and him [Carswell] stands up for liberty and privacy, I’d probably get more votes than him.”

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