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May and Gove battle for Downing Street as Tory leadership nominations close

May and Gove battle for Downing Street as Tory leadership nominations close

🕔30.Jun 2016

Five Conservative MPs are in the race to be the next party leader and prime minister with Home Secretary Theresa May looking like the favourite following the surprise withdrawal of Boris Johnson.

Nominations for the contest to replace David Cameron closed at noon today with Mrs May being joined by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Energy Minister Angela Leadsom, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, and former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

If Mrs May does make it to Downing Street the Conservative party will have to face up to having a prime minister who voted for Britain to remain in the EU, albeit reluctantly.

Dr Fox, Mr Gove and Mrs Leadsom voted to leave, while Mr Crabb is a remainer.

MPs will begin whittling down the list by voting on every Tuesday and Thursday until just two names are left, which will then be put to a ballot of Conservative members.

Mr Johnson, the former mayor of London who was one of the leaders of the EU Leave campaign, stunned Tories this morning by attending a meeting set up to launch his party leadership campaign only to announce that he wasn’t going to stand.

Two hours before, Mr Gove revealed that he would be standing and was withdrawing his support for Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson said:

Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament I have concluded that person [to lead the country] cannot be me.

My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda I believe in.

Mr Johnson had been the favourite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister until Mr Gove’s sensational move.

Mr Gove, who was the most high-profile Conservative backing a Leave vote alongside Mr Johnson, declared his own candidacy this morning.

I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership. In particular, I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future.

But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.

Several senior Conservatives, including Nick Boles and Dominic Raab, also transferred their allegiance from Mr Johnson to Mr Gove.

Mr Johnson had made a speech highlighting his record as Mayor of London between 2008 and 2016.

And he set out the challenges facing the next Prime Minister:

This is our chance to think globally again, to lift our eyes to the horizon and to bring our unique British voice and values, powerful humane progressive to the great global forums without being elbowed aside by a supranational body.

And instead of being afflicted by it let us seize this chance and make this our moment to stand tall in the world. That is the agenda for the next prime minister of this country.

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