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Michael Gove confirms Conservative leadership bid

UK News | Published:

The Environment Secretary said he believes he is ‘ready’ to lead Britain.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed he will formally enter the Conservative leadership race.

Speaking to the Press Association from his London home, the prominent Brexiteer said he will join an already crowded field after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-Cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom threw their hats into the ring.

He said: “I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country.

As the Tory battle for Downing Street intensifies, Mr Gove’s intervention is likely to cause concern to current front-runner Boris Johnson.

A spectacular fall out between the two former allies in the 2016 leadership contest helped destroy both men’s chances of the top job.

Mr Gove is posing as a self-styled “unity candidate”.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson had been the favourite for the Tory leadership, but will that change after Mr Gove’s declaration to join the contest? (PA)

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Both Mr Raab and Mrs Leadsom have said they would be prepared to order a no-deal Brexit in October if necessary.

Mr Hunt told The Sunday Times: “If I was prime minister, I’d be the first prime minister in living memory who has been an entrepreneur by background.

“Doing deals is my bread and butter as someone who has set up their own business.”

Mr Hunt’s emphasis on his entrepreneurial past is being seen as swipe at Mr Johnson, who reportedly once said “f*** business” in relation to Brexit.

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In a reference to mythical sea monsters, Mr Hunt said. “The real question is: who has got the experience to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of no deal or no Brexit. I’ve got very important experience in that respect.

“We can never take no-deal off the table but the best way of avoiding it is to make sure you have someone who is capable of negotiating a deal.”

The comments came after Mr Johnson insisted he would take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

Mr Raab told the Mail on Sunday he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but said the UK must “calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave in October – at the latest”.

Mrs Leadsom, whose resignation helped trigger Mrs May’s dramatic resignation statement, told The Sunday Times that if elected PM, the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal.

She said: “To succeed in a negotiation you have to be prepared to walk away.”

Mr Stewart was scathing about Mr Johnson’s no-deal stance, insisting such a position is “damaging and dishonest”.

He told the BBC: “I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit.

“I could not serve with Boris Johnson.”

In a clear dig at Mr Johnson, the International Development Secretary tweeted: “The star name will not always be the best choice.

“There may be times when Jiminy Cricket would make a better leader than Pinocchio.”

Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab said the UK must show ‘unflinching resolve’ in Brexit talks (PA)

He said he would take a different approach to try and get Commons support for a Brexit deal than the one Theresa May used.

He said: “She didn’t start by levelling with people about the trade-offs.

“I think it is much, much easier to bring people together behind a proposal if you are straightforward in advance.”

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has said she will not stand for the leadership.

Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May will depart Number 10 on June 7 (PA)

Labour has said it will trigger a Commons no-confidence vote in the new prime minister when they take office.

The new Tory leader looks set to take over as prime minister at the end of July after Mrs May finally laid out a timetable for her exit from Downing Street.

The timetable for the contest will see nominations close in the week of June 10, with MPs involved in a series of votes to whittle down the crowded field to a final two contenders.

Tory party members will then decide who wins the run-off.

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