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18th Jun 2019

Who would win in a fight between the Tory leadership candidates?

Kyle Picknell

10 staggeringly incompetent candidates were nominated, only six of the marginally less incompetent choices remain. But who would win a scrap? Let us find out, together

The 2019 Conservative Party leadership election is now in full swing as Britain prepares to come face to face with a new prime minister by July 22. One of the following six names will win: Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid ‘The Saj’ Javid and Rory Stewart.

On Sunday night all of the above, bar Johnson, took part in a televised debate on Channel Four, assembling at respective podiums in front of Krishnan Guru-Murthy like the worst Weakest Link ‘celebrity’ special you’ve ever laid your eyes on. As I didn’t watch, because you can literally find five awful Tory men all attempting to interrupt each other in just about any pub in Central London, I can’t possibly tell you who won.

Rory Stewart had his new fans championing him on social media afterwards, but so too did Boris Johnson’s empty plinth. I guess there never really is a winner when Tories come together like that, to answer questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” with all the humility and self-awareness of, well, a Tory leadership candidate.

Let’s imagine it differently, let’s make them fight instead. I’m thinking a no holds barred free-for-all where each candidate is allowed a single weapon of his choosing and the winner is the last man standing. Yeah. That’s what I’m thinking. So that’s what you’re getting, I’m afraid.

As these are six Tories, we can hold the fight neither in the Octagon or a wrestling ring, the most suitable venues, as no Tory has ever gone to the UFC or a wrestling event in the same way that no Tory has ever gone to the darts, or been in a Wetherspoons before 11 am. Instead, we will host the fight in their natural habitat: a random upper floor in one of the plethora of global bank-owned, characterless towers of glass in Canary Wharf.

Time to meet your fighters.


Boris shocks absolutely nobody by sending former soldier Johnny Mercer in his place instead.

COSTUME: Blonde wig, sloppy tie hung around his neck and spandex wrestling suit. Johnny Mercer is greased up. He is covered in grease. At least I think it is grease.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: Signed hardback copy of Johnson’s novel Seventy Two Virgins. The inscription reads: ‘To Jim, Good luck in Afghanistan! Best, Boz x’. He struggles to keep it in grasp he is so greasy. The hardcover sleeve is completely ruined.


COSTUME: Japanese kimono, sandals

WEAPON OF CHOICE: An NHS standard issue bedpan. Recently used.


COSTUME: The only remotely sporty gear Michael Gove owns, which is the Slazenger socks from SportsDirect/Asics running shoes/inexplicable grey polo or long sleeve t-shirt (he is going running!!! this is what he wears running!!! a polo! a long-sleeve tee!) outfit he wears for his morning jog.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: An ‘impatience for change’ and the ceremonial mace from parliament.


COSTUME: Karategi with black belt.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: Chooses not to bring a weapon, instead holds up both hands to camera and says “these puppies”.


COSTUME: Sajid Javid hasn’t worn anything other than a navy suit with a blue tie since the year 1989. He is wearing a navy suit with a blue tie.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: One of the only people who didn’t need The Big Short to explain credit default swaps to him. That’s it. That’s his weapon. He knows about bonds.


COSTUME: Appears to be wearing gigantic foam hands but on closer inspection, isn’t. In a bid to prove he is a man of the people he turns up in a Fila tracksuit, zipped right up to the chin.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: A single ballpoint pen that looks very suspicious. He reiterates that the pen is symbolic and that he definitely, definitely didn’t obtain it whilst working for MI6.


The fight opens with Rory Stewart immediately blowing a tranquiliser dart out of his definitely, definitely not from MI6 ballpoint pen into the neck of The Saj. The Saj is down. The Saj is out. Stewart then proceeds to run and jump through the window, 20 storeys up, before -midair – pulling a grappling hook from inside his tracksuit and firing it onto the roof. “See you later, bitches”, he says, as he rappels up to the roof whilst waving goodbye with one seemingly enormous hand.

There were no explicit rules about leaving the theatre of conflict so there is no disqualification but Stewart, regardless, is still presumably lurking in the upper floors of the building. He’s still in the game.

Whilst all this is going on, Michael Gove has started doing laps of the trading floor they are on whilst holding the ceremonial parliamentary mace out in front of him like a kind of medieval lancer on a wonky horse. Hunt tries to knock him out cold with the bedpan but it whizzes by Gove’s head. He’s too fast. Mercer, in turn, tries to discus throw his copy of Seventy Two Virgins but it slides out of his hand and smashes, corner first, into Dominic Raab’s temple.

Raab, who had thus far been stood motionless, breathing very heavily, suddenly throws his eyes wide open like Dracula waking up from a thousand years of sleep. The vein in his forehead is throbbing. And pulsing. The blood rushing through it is suddenly audible. THRSHHHH. THRSHHHHH. He lets out an urgent, primal scream like a newly jilted forest ape and charges at Mercer. Forgetting that he is a third dan black belt, he attempts to grapple with the army veteran. This is a brawl. There is no time for the technical approach. Unfortunately for Raab, Mercer’s grease means that he can’t get a hold, leaving the Conservative member of parliament for Plymouth Moor View with the simple task of grabbing his opponents gi and fucking leathering him through a nearby desk.

As this isn’t the wrestling, the table doesn’t break and Raab doesn’t, in fact, smash through the bit of furniture, instead just bouncing off the hard wooden surface and crumpling to the floor in agony. “My bloody back!”. Mercer, adrenaline coursing through him now like any chemical substance through any given member of the Conservative party, as they are so keen to tell you, points at Gove. “You’re next Michael.”

“You’ll have to catch me first!” is the reply, as the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs drops the mace to shed weight and makes a beeline for the stairwell.

With Mercer temporarily distracted by Gove’s newborn-giraffe running style, a window of opportunity opens for Hunt, who you may remember from all the times he has repeated it to fucking anyone who will listen, was once a pretty successful businessman. He’s not shy of seizing a moment. Often he misses the moment because he’s too busy telling you about all the other moments he seized that happened like a decade ago, but in this case, he does indeed pick up the fallen parliamentary mace and attempts to impale it through the former army Captain’s torso.

Unfortunately for Hunt, he has nowhere near the arm strength required to generate enough thrust to pierce skin and muscle and just ends up firmly poking his adversary. Mercer turns around and punches him in the jaw. “Take that, you Hunt.” That’s what happens when you let a Tory watch Point Break. Those are the action movie lines you get. I am sorry. That is all they can do. They are Tories. Anyway, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs is out cold. And then there were three.

Mercer, like a big, shaved, greasy panther, slinks to the door on the balls of his feet, expecting a surprise attack from Gove as soon as he throws it open. He is half right. Instead, as he does, he just finds one of Gove’s Asics tumbling down the steps. Then come his glasses, clinking against one of the handrails. Then the other trainer. Then the shorts. Oh god, the shorts. And finally the grey polo. Mercer doesn’t know what has happened to Gove, but just like the single horror film he has seen, he knows that the worst moments occur off-screen. So do that for me please. This is a bit of reader participation. I can’t describe a fate grisly enough for Michael Gove because of, I don’t know, lawyers, or something, so please just imagine the funniest way he could go down. Good. Well done.

Mercer, terrified by his own extremely limited imagination (Tory), decides to barricade the door with computers, the only way in and out the trading floor as the lifts have been shut down for this particular gentrified Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, as he is still very greasy, he keeps dropping said computers. He can’t handle them properly. He is throwing them around. He is making a lot of noise. Which means he can’t hear the noise above him. In the air vents. The pat-pat-pat of some abnormally large hands against the metal.

And just like that, Stewart is down and upon him, from behind, just as Gareth Keenan imagined, with his forearm around his neck and pressed back against Mercer’s windpipe. “WHY ARE YOU SO SLIMY?” Stewart bellows at him, as Mercer, rapidly losing oxygen, hoists the Secretary of State for International Development up on his back and starts flailing wildly in a bid to shake him off, the weary antelope being mauled by the lion. Unfortunately for Mercer, Stewart manages to clasp his hands together and lock the hold in. It is now unbreakable. It is now sealed, like a bank vault, and Mercer drops to his knees, before falling unconscious on the musty carpet.

Stewart is the last man standing. He has won, he is the champion. After abseiling down the side of the building to street level in Canary Wharf. There are no press, no cameras, no celebrations. Shrugging, he walks, hoping to find a group of young people, preferably BAME, who he can accost and repeat his binbag Brexit anecdote to. You’re in Canary Wharf mate. No luck.

Whilst searching hopelessly, Rory Stewart passes one of those shop windows full of televisions that just play rolling news footage that doesn’t seem to exist in real life but did, for some reason, in every single American film of the past fifty years. Oh no. Oh god no. It’s Boris. It’s Boris taking his oath of office. It’s Boris being sworn in. It’s Boris, the new prime minister. Boris Johnson, leader of Great Britain. This has all been a ruse, a ploy, a grand deception. How could he have fallen for it?

Rory Stewart pulls the definitely, definitely not from MI6 ballpoint pen from the inside of his tracksuit. This isn’t over just yet.