Ex-Tory chief whip Mark Harper is the 12TH MP to enter leadership race

Ex-Tory chief whip Mark Harper becomes the 12TH MP to enter leadership race with brutal attack on Boris for his ‘glib soundbites’ and ‘unachievable promise’ to force Brexit by October 31

  • Ex-minister Mark Harper became 12nd candidate to throw his hat in the ring
  • Poll shows 59 per cent of Tory members back Brexit party in the EU elections  
  • Hammond threatened to vote no confidence with PM who pushed for No Deal 

Former chief whip Mark Harper became the twelfth Tory fighting for the chaotic leadership race today – and immediately launched a bruising attack on Boris Johnson.

A dozen Conservatives have now declared their intention to do battle for the top job after Theresa May resigns as Tory leader on June 7.

Former chief whip Mark Harper has not served in Mrs May’s government and said that sets him apart from his rivals. 

Mr Harper used his launch to blast Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey for ‘glib soundbites’ and ‘unachievable promises’ to leave the EU with No Deal on October 31.

He said that if he wins he would consider delaying Brexit beyond Halloween to give himself time to negotiate a new deal. 

Former chief whip Mark Harper says rivals including Boris Johnson are guilty of ‘glib soundbites’ and ‘unachievable promises’ to leave the EU with No Deal on October 31

The Tory, who describes himself as an ‘outsider’ to leadership,  says he can win because he’s the only contender who was never part of Mrs May’s team and not ‘tainted’ by her deal.

Harper campaigned for remain in 2016 and he suggested a further delay to Brexit beyond 31 October could be needed if the next prime minister wanted to renegotiate the deal – something some of his rivals have already ruled out.  

Jacob Rees-Mogg blasts Boris rivals ‘who have no chance of winning’ for delaying coronation

Mr Rees-Mogg told This Morning; ‘I might be the only Tory MP who isn’t going to stand for the leadership’

 Jacob Rees-Mogg hit out at the number of Tory MPs running to be Tory leader today, saying many who had ‘no chance  of winning’ were delaying the decision during the Brexit crisis.

The hardline Brexiteer, who is backing Boris Johnson to take over from Theresa May, joked ‘I might be the only Tory MP who isn’t going to stand for the leadership’ – before refusing to rule out running in the future.

His intervention came as Brexit Minister James Cleverly became the 11th minister to officially declare they were running in the summer leadership battle today – with more still expected to join them. 

Mr Rees-Mogg told This Morning: ‘I think we are in a period of constitutional crisis, of national need for a leader to take over and we don’t want people delaying the process who have no chance of winning. 

‘And I think people should reflect very carefully about whether they have any chance and if it’s worth standing.’

Forest of Dean MP Mr Harper said his rivals shared responsibility with Mrs May for the failure to deliver Brexit but he was offering ‘fresh thinking’.

‘We’ve seen basically the same faces saying the same things that they’ve been saying for the last three years,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

‘A number of them have tried to position themselves as fresh faces but I’m afraid they’ve sat around the Cabinet table sharing the responsibility with the Prime Minister.’

He added: ‘I am quite happy to acknowledge that in this contest I am the underdog.’

Mr Harper, who campaigned for Remain in 2016, suggested a further delay to Brexit beyond October 31 could be needed if the next prime minister wants to renegotiate the Brexit deal – something some of his rivals have already ruled out.

Esther McVey has said the UK needs to ‘actively embrace leaving the EU without a deal’, while Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have both said they would work to renegotiate the terms on offer with Brussels but would make sure the UK leaves on October 31, with or without an agreement.

In her open letter to the participants in the race for Number 10, the CBI’s Ms Fairbairn said: ‘The next prime minister can only claim the Conservatives are the party of business if they secure a Brexit deal that protects the economy, jobs and living standards.

‘Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward.

‘Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one.

‘The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME (small and medium enterprise) members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.

‘We need compromise, consensus and honesty to resolve the Brexit impasse, quickly.’   

Michael Gove, pictured with his wife Sarah Vine, is the most likely to face Boris Johnson in the final two in July

Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock have both said they would fight to avoid No Deal and the leadership battle hots up 

Tory chiefs are considering changing party rules to prevent so many candidates standing in the race to succeed Theresa May.

Barnier blames Brexit on ‘typically British nostalgia’ and austerity 

Michel Barnier today blamed Brexit on ‘typically British nostalgia’ for when the country was ‘powerful’.

The EU’s chief negotiator – and potentially the next commission president – gave the dismissive assessment as he warned Tory hopefuls Brussels will not renegotiate the deal it agreed with Theresa May.

The intervention, at a crucial point in the contest to succeed Mrs May, could inflame tensions with the UK once again. Tory MPs said Mr Barnier clearly ‘doesn’t understand Brexit’, saying the comments only underlined why Britain was leaving. 

Current EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned at a summit in Brussels earlier this week that there would be no change to the Withdrawal Agreement thrashed out over nearly three years. 

And Mr Barnier underlined the message in an interview with the New York Review of Books today.

‘If the UK wants to leave in an orderly manner, this treaty is the only option,’ he said.

He pointed to ‘nostalgia’, the City’s reluctance to follow rules, and austerity as key reasons – but did not mention immigration or concerns about sovereignty. 

Senior party figures fear that as many as 20 MPs could run, creating ‘chaos’ and delaying the process to find a new leader.

The Conservative party board – its governing body – and the 1922 executive committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss raising the number of nominations candidates need in order to stand. At present, MPs only need a proposer and a seconder to join the race.

Nigel Evans, who is joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, accused some of the candidates of putting themselves forward despite having little support in the hope of securing a Cabinet job. ‘Some people have put their names forward when they have not got a credible chance of winning,’ he said. ‘We could rather absurdly hit 20 candidates by the time nominations close.

‘My view is that we should have not just a proper and seconder but a number of declared supporters for a candidate to be allowed to run. That would whittle the number down.’

He added: ‘We do not hamper ambition, but we do not allow some candidates to take the mick and abuse the rules in order that they can get a Cabinet job after. The rules are clearly not fit for purpose as they currently stand.’

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the number of nominations that candidates need should rise to ‘10, maybe 12’. Tory MPs will vote on the candidates in a series of knock-out rounds before they have whittled the list down to a final two, who party members will then get to choose from.

Meanwhile, all the candidates in the Tory race were warned of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The organisation’s director-general Carolyn Fairbairn used an open letter to say the next prime minister must seek an agreement with Brussels as the ‘vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal’.

Former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith (pictured speaking on the BBC today) called for a change in the rules to prevent the process descending into a shambles

So who will replace Theresa? Bookies’ favourite Boris is ODDS-ON to take May’s crown amid signs a DOZEN former ministers and backbenchers could enter the race to be PM

Boris Johnson is favourite to replace Theresa May’s after her decision to resign on June 7 fired the official starting gun on the race to succeed her. 

The long-term favourite has roared into a commanding lead to win the vote to take over as Tory leader and become the Prime Minister who will be faced with delivering Brexit. 

But the field in the contest due to take place in June and July is likely to be wide, with more than a dozen ministers, former ministers and backbenchers believed to be ready to run. 

Eleven MPs have now  said they will run: Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey, Sajid Javid, Kit Malthouse, and James Cleverly.

Sajid Javid is also believed to be considering a run, alongside outsiders including hardline Brexiteer Steve Baker and even Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee.

Here we look at the main runners and riders, with their odds with Ladbrokes and how they voted in the 2016 referendum:

Boris Johnson: The long-running thorn in May’s side  who has recently had a ‘prime ministerial’ makeover

Boris Johnson split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds

  • Former foreign secretary and mayor of London
  • Voted leave and has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer 
  • As likely to make headlines over his private life
  • Has recently lost a lot of weight and smartened up his appearance
  • Leadership odds 6/4 

The former foreign secretary, 54, who quit last July and has been tacitly campaigning for the leadership ever since. He finally went public last week to confirm he would run.

Never far from the limelight the father-of-four recently split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds, 20 years his junior. 

As an increasingly hawkish Brexiteer who says we should not be afraid of leaving without a deal he is hugely popular with the party faithful.

At the start of the year he underwent what might be deemed a ‘prime ministerial’ makeover, losing weight and taming his unruly mop of blonde hair.

Popular with the rank-and-file membership he has fewer fans in the parliamentary party and may face a concerted campaign to block his succession. 

Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who quit rather than back Mrs May’s deal

Dominic Raab has become a cheerleader for a hard Brexit since stepping down as Brexit secretary in November

  • Shortlived Brexit secretary last year, replacing David Davis in the hot seat 
  • But walked in November over terms agreed by PM
  • Voted for Brexit in 2016
  • Leadership odds 4/1 

Mr Raab, 45, is another Vote Leave member who became Brexit secretary after David Davis quit alongside Mr Johnson last July over the Chequers plan.

But he lasted just a matter of months before he too jumped ship, saying he could not accept the terms of the deal done by the Prime Minister.

Like Mr Johnson and Mr Davis he has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer, sharing a platform with the DUP’s Arlene Foster and suggesting we should not be afraid of a no-deal Brexit.

The Esher and Walton MP’s decision to quit in November, boosted his popularity with party members but he lacks the wider popular appeal of Mr Johnson.

And like Mr Johnson he might benefit from having quit the Cabinet at an earlier stage and dissociating himself with the dying days of the May administration.  

His odds have shortened as he is seen as possibly a more palatable alternative Brexiteer to Boris by MPs seeking to block Mr Johnson’s run.

He recently posed for a glossy photoshoot with wife Erika at their Surrey home.

Michael Gove: The boomerang cabinet minister with a Machiavellian reputation

Michael Gove has made a remarkable political comeback after being sacked by Theresa May in 2016

  • Leading Vote Leave figure in 2016 who now backs PM’s Brexit deal
  • Former journalist, 51,  who stood for leadership in 2016
  • Was sacked as education minister by Theresa May
  • Later returned as Environment Minister
  • Leadship odds 5/1

A Brexiteer with a Machiavellian reputation after the 2016 leadership campaign in which he first supported Boris Johnson for the leadership and then stood against him, to their mutual disadvantage.

The former education secretary –  sacked by Mrs May –  was rehabilitated to become a right-on environment secretary – complete with reusable coffee cups and a strong line on food standards after Brexit.

Despite being a former lead figure in the Vote Leave campaign alongside Mr Johnson the former journalist and MP for Surrey Heath has swung behind Mrs May’s Brexit deal –  which might count against him.

Supports leaving with a deal and while he says a No deal Brexit would come with ‘problems’ he believes the country could get through it. 

Seen as one of the Cabinet’s strongest political thinkers and having stood once it is unthinkable that he would not stand again.

He will again be pitched against Mr Johnson in a battle for Brexiteer votes. 

Andrea Leadsom: May’s former rival who finally decided she could take no more

Ms Leadsom (pictured today) quit the cabinet yesterday. She is a Brexiteer who frequently clashed with Speaker John Bercow

  • The Commons’ Leader challenged May in 2016
  • Voted for Brexit 
  • Hosted Brexiteer ‘pizza party’ plot last year 
  • Increasingly outspoken Brexiteer
  • Leadership odds 12/1 

The former Commons’ Leader piled pressure on the Prime Minister by announcing her own resignation from the Cabinet on Wednesday. 

In a parting blast, the Commons Leader said she could not stomach the latest version of Mrs May’s Brexit deal, with its offer of a second referendum.

In a brutal resignation letter she said: ‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result.’ 

It was the final act by an MP whose departure had seemingly been on the cards for months.  

Mrs Leadsom, a mother of three, stood against Mrs May for the party leadership in 2016 before conceding defeat before it was put to a vote of MPs.

As collective responsibility largely broke down among ministers she became an increasingly vocal and clear Brexiteer voice in the Cabinet along line similar lines to Mr Johnson and Mr Raab.

She was the host of a Brexiteer ‘pizza party’ in Parliament that included Michael Gove and Liz Truss as the vying wings of the Cabinet plotted to shape the Brexit deal they wanted.

In her role as Commons’ Leader she frequently clashed with Speaker John Bercow over issues including bullying in Parliament. 

It is something that will do her no harm among the Tory backbenches where he is widely loathed. 

Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer unity candidate who wants to heal the party

Jeremy Hunt, a born-again Brexiteer after supporting Remain, toured Africa last month with wife Lucia

  • The Foreign Secretary voted Remain 
  • But has become an increasingly vocal Brexiteer
  • Former health secretary backs May’s deal
  • Has approached ministers about running as a unity candidate
  • Leadership odds 12/1 

The Foreign Secretary who has undergone a Damascene conversion to the Brexit cause and is seen as a safe if uninspiring pair of hands.

The 52-year-old South West Surrey MP has reportedly been selling himself to colleagues as a unity candidate who can bring together the fractious Tory factions into something approaching a cohesive party. 

A long-serving health secretary, the father-of three replaced Mr Johnson as the UK’s top diplomat and has won some plaudits over issues like the imprisonment of British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.

But critics point to tub-thumpingly comparing the EU to the USSR at the party conference last year – which was very badly received in Brussels – and a gaffe in which he referred to his Chinese wife  as ‘Japanese’ as a reception in China.

Last month he went on a tour of Africa in which his Chinese wife Lucia made a major appearance, after he gaffed by forgetting her nationality.

Last week he called for a ‘decisive’ hike in defence spending to see off the rising threat from Russia and China – in a speech seen as a clear signal of his leadership ambitions. 

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet Mansion House in the City of London, he said the UK’s hard power must be strengthened, with billions more spent on new capabilities to tackle drones and cyber attacks.

Rory Stewart: Remainer rising star and friend of royals who is not short of confidence 

The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married

  • Penrith MP, 46, is a former tutor to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex
  • Old Etonian ex-soldier worked for Foreign Office in Iraq and set up a charity for the Prince of Wale sin Afghanistan
  • Voted for Remain and still backs a soft Brexit
  • Leadership odds 16/1

The former prisons minister who once vowed to quit if they did not improve within a year declared his candidacy almost as soon as he was promoted to the Cabinet.

He stepped up to International Development Secretary earlier this month to replace Ms Mordaunt and days later declared he will run for the Tory leadership.

The Theresa May loyalist praised the PM for her ‘courageous effort’ to pass her Brexit deal but admitted he would throw his hat in the ring when she steps down.

Urging his party not to ‘try to outdo Nigel Farage’, the development secretary said the Tories should ‘stretch all the way from Ken Clarke to Jacob Rees-Mogg’.

He also lashed out at Mr Johnson at the weekend, saying he would not serve under a No Deal-supporting PM. 

The Old Etonian former tutor to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex previously worked for the Foreign Office in Iraq and set up a charity for the Prince of Wales in Afghanistan.

He has also written several books about walking. 

The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married.   

Seen as highly intelligent his staunch Remainer and soft Brexit credentials look likely to count against him in a race set to be dominated by the Brexiteer wing of the party. 

Matt Hancock: Waffle-loving health secretary who wants Tories to choose a younger leader 

Then culture secretary Mr Hancock with his wife Martha at the 2018 NME Awards

  • The youngest front-runner at 40
  • A Remainer who now backs Theresa May’s Brexit deal
  • He wants the party to look to the future and attract younger voters
  • Leadership odds 20/1

The Health Secretary is, like his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, seen as something of a unity candidate.

The 40-year-old father of three is seen as a safe pair of hands despite a few teething problems in his latest Cabinet role.

Last year he was accused of breaking ethics rules after he praised a private health firm app in a newspaper article sponsored by its maker.

But he has since made some hard-hitting interventions in areas like the impact of social media on health. 

Last month he joined Ms Mordaunt in backing the Generation Why? report showing that the Tories needed to become more relevant to younger voters. 

He called on the party to change its ‘tone’ towards modern Britain or face Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, in a speech widely seen as setting out his leadership credentials.

This week he showed his human side by unashamedly chomping calorific stroopwafels before a TV broadcast, saying he people should enjoy things in moderation. 

Penny Mordaunt: The highly regarded Brexiteer promoted to take on defence

Ms Mordaunt is an outsider for the leadership but is highly thought of in Brexiteer groups

  • The MP for Portsmouth North is a Royal Navy reservist
  • Highly regarded in Brexiteer circles 
  • She has been consistently tipped to quit over Brexit but remains in the Cabinet 
  • Once appeared in a swimsuit in a reality TV show 
  • Leadership odds 25/1 

The new Defence Secretary – the first woman ever to hold the post – is highly regarded in Brexiteer circles. 

The Royal Navy reservist, 46, carved out a niche at International Development with some eye-catching suggests about changing how the UK spends disperses aid cash.

She has become an increasingly serious politician after initially being seen as lighthearted when she appeared in a swimsuit in ITV reality TV show Splash!

She was promoted earlier this month to replace Gavin Williamson when he was sacked for leaking details from a confidential meeting about Huawei.   

Over the preceding few months she was at the heart of persistent rumours that she would be the next Brexit-supporting minister out the door over Brexit. 

She has yet to announce she is running but last month she backed a thinktank report saying the party needed to attract new voters.

She said the party needed to ‘act swiftly’ to win over the younger generations who were turning away from the centre-Right in ‘unprecedented’ numbers. 

On Wednesday, after other Cabinet Brexiteers including Andrea Leadsom were notable by their absence during Prime Minister’s Questions, she remained at her post. It remains to be seen whether this loyalty will count for or against her. 

Sajid Javid: Remainer star who has run into trouble over knife crime and refugees

Sajid Javid, pictured with his wife Laura, has seen his stock take a hit over the knife crime crisis and migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats

  • The most senior cabinet contender
  • Voted Remain but wants to see Brexit delivered
  • Faced criticism as Home Secretary 
  • But has taken a hard line on Shamima Begum case 
  • Leadership odds 33/1

The Home Secretary, a Remainer who wants to see Brexit delivered, was the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet to replace Mrs May.

After replacing Amber Rudd last year he consciously put clear ground between himself and the Prime Minister on issues like caps on skilled migrants after Brexit.

But his credentials have taken a hit recently. He finds himself facing ongoing criticism of his handling of the knife crime crisis affecting UK cities, which sparked a Cabinet row over funding for police.

He also lost face over his handling of the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel in January, being seen to move slowly in realising the scale of the problem.

But more recently the 49-year-old Bromsgove MP has made a serious of hardline decision designed to go down well with Tory voters. 

Most notably they have included moving to deprive London teenager turned Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 19, of her British citizenship, after she was discovered among former Islamic State members in a Syrian refugee camp. 

Steve Baker: Brexiteer ‘Spartan’ and self-styled ‘hardman’ who refused to budge over Brexit

Brexit ‘hardman’ Steve Baker has previously threatened to leave the Tories over Brexit

  • Former Brexit minister who resigned last year
  • A member of the European Research Group which has has opposed Theresa May’s deal in every vote
  • Threatened to quit the Tories over Brexit earlier this year
  • Leadership odds 33/1 

The High Wycombe MP, 47, is a Brexit purist who has never backed Theresa May’s deal.

In March he even threatened to quit the party over the issue, saying: ‘We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of No Brexit or this deal.

‘I may yet resign the whip than be part of this.’

The married former RAF engineer officer described himself as a ‘hardman’ in a TV interview this year, only to be shown shortly afterwards in a documentary crying in his office.

Today he told the BBC: ‘There is no point shying away from it, people have been asking me to stand. I have had a degree of support from across the country that I could never have foreseen.

‘I have also had some MPs asking me to stand but I need to face up to the challenge of taking a decision on whether I should do it.’

Sir Graham Brady: Backbench kingmaker with an eye on the throne?

The chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May

  • Quit today as chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs
  • He went into Downing Street today to tell Mrs May time was up
  • But his name was oddly missing from a later statement on leadership  
  • Leadership odds  50/1

As chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs he has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May.

But he quit that post after nine years today ahead o a possible run for the top job. 

Despite being a Brexiteer he has been an independent arbiter, overseeing the no-confidence vote Mrs May survived in December and reportedly opposing attempts to change the rules to dethrone her early.

The married father of two has held several meetings with the PM in recent weeks as the mutiny against her grew and this morning saw her in Downing Street where he told her that her time was up.

But his name was conspicuously absent from a later Conservative Party statement about how the leadership election would happen. 

He told the Press Association: ‘I have been approached by a number of colleagues across the party both inside and outside Parliament asking me to put myself forward as a candidate.

‘Therefore I have taken the decision to stand down from the position of chairman of the 1922 Committee in order to ensure a fair and transparent election process.

‘I am considering the approaches I have received and will make a further statement in due course.’

His Brexiteer credentials and honourable display as Mrs May was brought down will count in his favour but he lacks frontbench experience, having a sole three-year stint as a shadow Europe minister 15 years ago on his CV. 

Esther McVey: Former TV presenter and minister who quit Government over Brexit 

The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer Philip Davies, 47

  • The 51-year-old was Work and Pensions Secretary until quitting in November
  • She was a presenter on GMTV before entering politics
  • Is engaged to fellow Tory MP Philip Davies
  • This week launched a ‘blue collar Conservatism’ project 
  • Leadership odds 50/1 

The former Work and Pensions Secretary declared her leadership bid last month and has set out a stall as a right-wing blue-collar candidate from a working class  Liverpudlian background.

The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer  Philip Davies, 47, having previously had a romance with ex-minister Ed Vaizey. She has no children.

This week she set out her leadership pitch by calling for the party to use £7billion of foreign aid cash on buckling British police forces and schools.

Launching a ‘blue collar conservatism’ campaign the Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust’ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas’ to win it back’.

She said that keeping cash in the UK that is currently sent abroad would allow an increase of £4billion in spending on schools and £3billion for police, which are both demanding more money.And she declined to rule out doing a post-election deal with Nigel Farage – but said that if the Tories got the UK out it would mean that his Brexit Party would have no reason to exist. Speaking in Westminster she reiterated her call for the next party leader to be ‘someone who believes in Brexit’ – a dig at Mrs May, who supported the Remain campaign in 2016. 

Kit Malthouse: Self-proclaimed peacemaker who says it is time for a ‘new generation’ to take charge 

  • Known for his efforts to forge a compromise between Tory Brexit factions 
  • Entered the Commons in David Cameron’s 2015 election victory 
  • Served as deputy to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London 
  • Leadership odds 100/1

Kit Malthouse, who was elected to the Commons in 2015, says it is time for a new generation of politicians to take charge of the Conservative Party

Housing minister Kit Malthouse is best known for his abortive efforts to forge a joint position between Tory Remainers and Brexiteers – which would essentially have meant leaving the EU more slowly but with looser trade ties.

It was modestly labelled as the ‘Malthouse Compromise’.

Now the 52-year-old, who was elected to the Commons in 2015, says it is time for a new generation of politicians to take charge of the Conservative Party. 

Previously the Liverpool-born father-of-three served as a deputy to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London. 

He says his core offer in the contest is a new social contract, ‘a good job, a secure home and a brilliant school. Job, house, school – the foundations of a secure and happy life’.

However, even though Tory leadership contests often throw up surprises, it is unclear whether he will have the support needed to edge out the big beasts. 

James Cleverly: Strong media performer who once said he wanted to snog Theresa May 

James Cleverly has been seen as a rising star since entering the Commons as part of David Cameron’s surprise win in 2015, as MP for Braintree

James Cleverly has been seen as a rising star since entering the Commons as part of David Cameron’s surprise win in 2015, as MP for Braintree.

Prior to that the 49-year-old was leader of the Conservative group in the London Assembly – although he had a life before politics, serving briefly in the army before injury ended his career, and then working in the publishing industry.

Mr Cleverly was moved up the ranks to Tory Deputy Chairman  at the beginning of last year, before getting on the ministerial ladder as the No2 at the Brexit department when Chris Heaton-Harris resigned this spring.

He is known as a good communicator on TV and radio, and is not afraid to be combative on social media.  

He is trying to make a virtue of his lack of Cabinet experience, sand says he would be proud to be the first BAME Prime Minister. 

Mr Cleverly once said he wanted to ‘snog’ Theresa May as he played a light-hearted game on BBC Radio 5 Live – a desire the PM later complained he had not followed through on. 

However, despite being loyal before her resignation was announced, Mr Cleverly has now shown a ruthless streak by swiping that Mrs May was ‘not a good fit’ for the role of PM. 




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