Theresa May’s replacement will be chosen by 100 000 ‘male and pale’ voters

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The fate of the UK over Brexit will be decided by around 100,000 people who are predominately male, white, middle-class pensioners. Grass roots members of the Conservative Party will choose the new prime minister whose job it will be to lead us out of the EU. However, their demographic is ‘entirely unrepresentative’ of the general population based on gender, wealth, ethnicity and their hard-line attitudes against Brussels. Experts say this situation could make a no-deal exit from the EU more likely – but also, paradoxically, there is a higher chance of a second referendum too. The race to be Theresa May’s successor when she stands down on June 7th will be decided by Tory party members rather than the general public. Research has confirmed that 70% of party members are male and 97% are white British. The average age is 57, although over 40% of the group is aged 65 or above. Members are concentrated in the southern half of the country with six out of ten living in Eastern England, London, the south east and the south west. Some 86% of them fall into the ABC1 category, used by researchers to describe the top social grade.
Politics professor Tim Bale : ‘The average member will be a man, in his late 50s, will be white British, will live in the south of England and be comfortably off. ‘They are certainly more comfortably off than most people and certainly not representative in terms of ethnicity. ‘In the UK some 15% of people come from ethnic minority backgrounds whereas only 3% of those in the Conservative party do.’ Tory MPs are now queuing up to throw their hats into the ring and a leadership contest is set to start the week commencing June 10th. MPs will hold a series of secret ballots to whittle down the candidates to two. This final pair will be put to a postal vote of the wider party membership and the winner declared the new prime minister, probably by the end of July. Membership costs £25 per year but it is too late for anyone wanting to join in the process for this time. Professor Tim Bale said members of the Tory party were not representative of the British public Prof Bale of Queen Mary University of London said Brexit would be the only deciding factor and there had been a hardening of attitudes against the EU by grassroots Tories in the last few years. In 2016, 80% of those picking our new PM voted to Leave and now two-thirds want to exit the bloc without a deal. Some 90% would be opposed to a second referendum or a People’s Vote on the exact terms of our exit, scheduled for October 31. Prof Bale, who leads the ESRC Party Members Project, added: ‘There is a considerable difference between the party membership and the population as a whole. ‘Surveys show only a quarter of voters would leave without a deal but two-thirds of party members prefer the option of no-deal. ‘We had Theresa May saying “no-deal is better than a bad deal”. ‘Then you had “celebrity politicians” like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson talking about no-deal.
The latest official figures from March 2018 showed there were 124,000 paid-up Tory party members. However a number have defected to the Brexit Party and experts believe the number is now around the 100,000 mark. Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to be elected and is very popular within the wider Tory party because of his hard stance on Brexit. After Theresa May’s resignation on Friday, the Leave architect vowed to pull the UK out of the EU ‘deal or no deal’ if he becomes PM. He is, however, less popular among the party’s centrist and pro-remain groupings and could struggle to form a Cabinet. Parliament has made it clear they want to leave with a deal and could scupper any new prime minister who attempts to crash out. That could come in the form of a no confidence vote against the new Tory leader or stopping Brexit by pulling the plug on Article 50, the legal mechanism by which we leave. Prof Bale said: ‘The choices are becoming quite polarised now.’ He continued: ‘If they elect a leader who promises to go to Brussels and makes a threat to pull out without a deal, that might alter the negotiations on both sides. ‘I think it makes a no deal more likely but, paradoxically, it also makes a referendum more likely too. ‘If parliament stops no-deal, I don’t think they would revoke Article 50 without a second vote.’
Labour have called for a general election and a new prime minister could also call a snap vote in an attempt to get a Tory majority in the House of Commons. Prof Bale added: ‘I would not be surprised if this is something Boris Johnson would do because he might think he can connect with the voters in a way that Theresa May could not. ‘And if the party also believed that it could beat Jeremy Corbyn.’
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