What's really going on behind the scenes after Tory party's greatest defeat

This is the greatest defeat in the Conservative Party's history and it will not recover soon. Trying to do so will end up prolonging the pain. 

This was not a defeat born of an election called too early, or with too thin a manifesto, or because of what happened at D-Day or with wayward bets by allies of the prime minister.

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Starting with Boris Johnson and still evident under Rishi Sunak, the Tories were a party which had lost direction of economic, social and foreign policy.

It needs not only to find a new direction, but more importantly to decide on a purpose.

Is the priority growth or the deficit or tax cuts? Is it pro or anti business? Is it prepared to invest to reform public services, or does it simply dislike the public sector? How does it deal with populism without becoming Reform-lite?

As it prepares for months - possibly years - of bloodletting and recrimination, the Conservative Party looked today, at the moment, like it could agree on just two things.

The first is that Mr Sunak was to share a large part of the blame. The other is that it seems, at present time, better to keep Reform's Nigel Farage out of the party. Even these may not hold as Tory truths for that long.

But beyond that, we know little.

So prepare for some arguments about the future in the coming days. But what's really going on behind the scenes is a process row.

Read more:
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The first that needs to be decided, early next week, is the timetable for what happens next.

Mr Sunak has offered to carry on temporarily, but was careful not to specify how long he would do this for.

This means the unedifying prospect for him of having to stand at the dispatch box in just under two weeks for Prime Minister's Questions from the opposition benches.

Will this continue long into the autumn, to or beyond party conference? Nothing is known.

Then there is the job of working out the composition of the new Tory parliamentary party.

They will determine which two candidates go through to the members, if the rules remain unchanged.

Is this cohort of 121 MPs more inclined towards Trussonomics or Mr Sunak's type of conservatism - or do they lean another way? Again nothing is clear.

There are much bigger questions than merely who should be the next leader.