Two local political heavyweights have been generating so many news headlines in recent weeks you wonder if they may be jockeying to be chief executive next year. Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Leung Chun-ying have made radical proposals that would have been unthinkable before the introduction of the national security law in the summer. Lawmaker, cabinet member and chairwoman of the New People’s Party, Ip has suggested enforcing the mainland’s ban on dual nationality in Hong Kong. Leung, the former chief executive, is even more extreme, as he has proposed cancelling the election for the top job. It looks like the two are competing to see who can be a better leftist in Beijing’s eyes. So much for political moderation! It’s probable that Ip, having tried but failed to be a chief executive candidate in the last election in 2017, still harbours the ambition. Leung, believing he was stymied not only by the pan-democratic opposition but also the powerful business lobby while he was chief executive, may want to stage a comeback to finish the job. Certainly, Leung would be unelectable even by the “democratic” process of the 1,200-member chief executive Election Committee; he had no political base to depend on but made enemies left and right while in office. Maybe I am just being a cynical hack, imagining hidden agendas where there are none. Ip’s proposal is not only possible but likely. As Britain starts accepting applications from BN(O) passport holders that could lead to citizenship, Beijing is certain to take retaliatory action. “It may be time for the Chinese government to end its special treatment of Hong Kong Chinese for historical reasons, and enforce its nationality law to disallow dual nationality,” she wrote in this newspaper. The idea of banning dual nationality has some support within local pro-Beijing circles. It will likely have a cut-off date so those who already hold a foreign passport will not be affected. Meanwhile, writing on Facebook, Leung warns against “a puppet” controlled by the United States becoming chief executive. That seems far-fetched, given the way any candidate not to Beijing’s liking may simply be disqualified at the outset. The winning candidate also has to be formally appointed by the central government. Beijing clearly prefers to have an election for the chief executive so long as it can control the choice of candidates. With the national security law, it has even more power to do so.