James Cleverly withdraws from race to become prime minister

Elias Hubbard
June 5, 2019

'It is clear that, despite much support, particularly from our party's grassroots, MPs weren't comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to be one of the final two candidates'.

There are still 12 candidates vying to replace May, who will formally step down as Conservative leader on Friday.

"I believe at the moment we actually have to have a team that believes in Brexit", she told LBC radio.

Given that she has not reached that number in public endorsements from MPs, the tighter rule looks "problematic" - as one of her parliamentary supporters acknowledged to me - but I was assured that she "should be okay".

"To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP". Later, Mr Malthouse said he was a "realist" and that "there is an appetite for this contest to be over quickly".

Brexiteers were "spoiled for choice" for candidates, Mr Baker added, and named three candidates - Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson - he believed could back the ERG paper.

He said he had "seen the European Union upfront and personal" and "as Brexit Secretary I looked our European Union opposite numbers in the eyes".

"If we get to the opening and closing of nominations on Monday and we collectively agree there must be somebody who is willing to do this then I would be willing to be the person who gets nominated".

Meanwhile, International Trade Secretary Mr Fox announced he is backing Mr Hunt because he wants to steer away from a no-deal Brexit.

"That's how we get Brexit done, defeat Corbyn and unify the country", he said.

Although he said the United Kingdom had to be "willing to walk away", he warned that a no-deal Brexit could be used by independence campaigners in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Speaking at a Policy Exchange event, Mr Hancock said the "most urgent task" facing a new prime minister was to achieve a Brexit deal that faced the "hard truths".

'I think he understands we have for message to Europe that we will leave if we can not get an appropriate deal but we will try to get a deal'.

On issues such as chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef, he added: "We have made very clear that, without exception, imports into the United Kingdom must meet the UK's stringent food standards and that is not going to change".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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