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  IDS: Battle for Survival
Howard to stand as Tory leader after all
The current Shadow Chancellor, Michael Howard, has in the last half hour launched his bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party. Contrary to earlier reports, which had suggested that the entire party had decided not to stand, Mr Howard apparently realised that someone would need to become leader and called a press conference for this afternoon.

Mr Howard descended on the scrum of waiting journalists, his black cape fluttering slightly behind him, and made a speech aiming to unite his party behind him. Drawing on the characteristics of fellow contenders who have stepped aside and attempting to appeal to the widest possible range of people, Mr Howard described his immigrant, single mother, pro-Europe, euro-sceptic, black, disabled and female heritage.

He also sought to sweep aside suggestions that he is too "nasty" to lead the Conservatives to a victory by flashing his fangs at the cameras and warning hacks that if they said that again he would torch their offices.

Earlier, the spoof MP for Henley, Boris Johnson, described the process of getting a new leader as similar to that which takes place in North Korea, in that it will be completely undemocratic if at all possible. "This is what Party members want," he added. "It's good for the country."

Reports that Michael Howard has a nuclear capability are meanwhile to be investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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