The National:

THERESA May has officially resigned as party leader, firing the starting gun on the contest to replace her.

Boris Johnson is off to a flying start, having managed to escape prosecution over claims the UK sends £350 million a week to the EU.

Rival Esther McVey has sought to woo Tory voters with attacks on LGBT education and the claim that the UK is “one of the most generous countries in our support for disabled people” (the UK in fact ranks 27th out of 36 OECD countries when it comes to spending on disability-related cash payments).

READ MORE: Boris Johnson avoids prosecution over £350m Brexit campaign claim

Michael Gove, meanwhile, has been doing lots of jogging.

The point is, you really have to go some to stand out in this Tory leadership race.

Step forward Rory Stewart – who, according to new YouGov polling, is the public’s top choice for prime minister among Conservative candidates.

Stewart has stolen the limelight away from his rivals with a stunning strategy to save the Union. It even tops Matt Hancock’s ingenious ploy to cover Edinburgh in Union Jacks.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock makes ‘nonsense’ claim about Union Jack at Edinburgh Festival

One of Conservatives' favourite pastimes is to hark back to what they conceive as a glorious past, and Stewart is bang on brand here.

To the delight of social media users, he announced he will immediately introduce mandatory national service for every 16-year-old in the UK if he becomes prime minister.

Aside from the obvious attraction of conscripting youngsters, the Tory MP said the scheme would be “a fantastic way of bringing people from Scotland and England together”.

The idea was presumably conceived while Stewart smoked opium – “a very stupid mistake” – in Iran, where military service is mandatory for most men after turning 18.

In a video which has certainly caught the attention of Twitter users, the Conservative said: “I am committing that on the day that I take over as prime minister I will launch national citizen service.”

He quickly clarified: “Not a military service.”


Stewart continued: “But a national service for every young person at 16, where they will go, spend two weeks with people from different backgrounds, often in an outdoor, education setting – to learn skill, develop confidence and then two weeks giving back to a community project.

“I felt it myself as a young man, joining the army in a military setting, how much confidence it gave me and how much it set me up for life.” Wait a minute … “But in modern Britain it doesn’t need to be in a military setting,” That’s that settled. It’s nothing like military service – ok?!

The Jouker is in awe of Stewart’s efforts to outdo his Tory rivals, but not everyone was so complimentary …