JUSTICE secretary and Brexit campaigner Michael Gove; home secretary Theresa May and former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox have joined work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb in announcing their bid to be the new leader of the Conservative Party and Britain’s next prime minister.
Former London mayor Boris Johnson is expected to join the race later in the day, a week after the shock vote to leave the EU last Thursday (23).
In a surprise announcement, Gove, who campaigned alongside Johnson for Britain to leave the EU, said the former London mayor “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.
“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,” Gove wrote in a column announcing his leadership bid on the Spectator magazine’s website.
“But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”
Writing in The Times, May said: “Following last week’s referendum, our country needs strong, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty, and to negotiate the best possible terms as we leave the European Union.”
Prime minister David Cameron announced his resignation last Friday, hours after the result of the EU referendum showed that Britain voted to leave the European Union. Cameron said it should be up to his successor to launch exit negotiations with the EU.
The new Tory leader is set to be voted in by party members by September 9 at the latest, but European leaders have pressed for a quicker timetable, warning against a prolonged period of uncertainty over Britain’s EU future.
Tory members, who will eventually decide the winner, favour May by a margin of 37 per cent to 27 per cent, according to a YouGov poll published on Thursday.
Secretary of state for work and pensions Stephen Crabb announced his candidacy on Wednesday (June 29), proposing business secretary Sajid Javid as the chancellor if he wins the leadership contest.