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Candidates for interim Tory leader begin to emerge

Following Michael Howard's announcement that he will step down "sooner rather than later", potential successors as interim leader of the Conservative Party have begun to appear. Mr Howard said he would stay as interim leader until the party had decided whether it wanted to change the rules for electing a successor.

However, the party has moved quickly to change the rules, DeadBrain has learned.

Douglas Ramsbottom, a Tory strategist, said that it is now believed that no party leader without hair can possibly win an election. Mr Howard and his two predecessors as interim leader, William Hague and Iain Duncan Whatsisname, are all noticeably lacking in head hair, whereas John Major and Margaret Thatcher both had a considerable amount of it, as does Tony Blair. Mr Ramsbottom acknowledged that nobody was ever sure that Mrs Thatcher's hair was real, but he said that that was not the point, it was appearance that counted, and besides they could never find anyone brave enough to ask her.

Henceforth only those with a decent head of hair will be accepted as candidates for interim Tory leader. However, owing to the haste with which the new rule was put in place, Boris Johnson has emerged as the prime candidate.

"We should have specified a good head of properly combed or coiffured hair," bewailed Mr Ramsbottom. "But it's too late now - if we change the rule again it will look as if we are indecisive."

Other candidates include Cliff Richard, Theresa May, the late Sir Kenneth Clark, Liam Fox, and his cousin, Basil Brush.

Mr Ramsbottom dismissed as idle speculation a suggestion that Mrs Thatcher is preparing to make a comeback. He said there was no substance whatsoever to a rumour that a van had been seen delivering several cases of botox to her home.

"The lady's not for returning," he quipped.

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