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Tory leadership contest in full swing as ex-minister Andrea Leadsom joins the race

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has also thrown his hat in the ring.

Former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom
Former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated May 25th 2019, 10:38 PM

FORMER HOUSE OF Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has become the latest Tory MP to enter the race to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister who announced she would stand down as Conservative Party leader on 7 June. 

Leadsom was the runner up in the Conservative leadership contest when May became leader in 2016 and until Wednesday served as Leader of the House of Commons.

She told the Sunday Times that she has the “experience and confidence” to lead the UK “into a brighter future”.

Leadsom joins front runner Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart and Esther McVey, along with former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, according to Skynews.

Raab made his intentions known in the Mail on Sunday, where he wrote that he will put his hat in the ring to offer an “optimistic Conservative vision” and “fight for a fairer deal on Brexit”.

Early today, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock joined the long list of contenders. 

The 40-year-old MP announced he was joining an already crowded field of Tory politicians hoping to succeed May.

“I’m running for the next prime minister because I profoundly believe we need a leader for the future and not just for now,” Hancock told Sky News this morning. 

“We need to deliver Brexit, and I will deliver Brexit, and we need to move this country forward, taking all the opportunities that Brexit brings.”

Leaving the European Union without an agreement is “not an active policy choice that is available to the next prime minister,”  Hancock said. 

The Health Secretary is viewed as one of the dark horses who might make it through a crowded field that is expected to include more than a dozen names.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has ruled herself out of the leadership contest while prominent Brexiteer MP Michael Gove, who ran for leader in 2016, has refused to be drawn on whether or not he will enter the race. 

The contest is being held against the backdrop of European Parliament elections that the new Brexit Party of the anti-EU populist Nigel Farage is expected to win with about a third of the vote.

Polls show the Conservatives getting punished for their bickering over Brexit and finishing as low as fifth – their worst result in a national election.

The contenders are also mindful of a party revolt over May’s fateful decision to court the pro-EU opposition with the promise of a second Brexit referendum.

The concession was designed to help ram her withdrawal agreement through parliament on the fourth attempt.

But it won her no converts and sparked a party coup attempt that forced May to walk away before she was pushed out.

Parliamentary party members will begin whittling down the field of Tory party contenders to a final two on 10 June. 

The finalists will go up for a vote in a ballot held across Britain by around 100,000 party members (who have three months’ standing) in July.

With reporting from Adam Daly 

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