Tuesday 15 October 2019

And then there were 10: Tories name candidates to be next UK Prime Minister and party leader

File photos of the ten contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) Boris Johnson; Dominic Raab; Jeremy Hunt; Rory Stewart; Mark Harper; (bottom row, left to right) Esther McVey; Matt Hancock; Andrea Leadsom; Michael Gove; and Sajid Javid.
File photos of the ten contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) Boris Johnson; Dominic Raab; Jeremy Hunt; Rory Stewart; Mark Harper; (bottom row, left to right) Esther McVey; Matt Hancock; Andrea Leadsom; Michael Gove; and Sajid Javid.
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is running to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Harriet Line

British Conservative Party confirms ten candidates to become party leader and UK Prime Minister.

The candidates are: Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Mark Harper.

The announcement came after a day of back-to-back leadership launches with Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey setting out their stalls.

Mr Gove launched a personal attack on his Tory leadership rival Mr Johnson in a bid to move attention away from his cocaine admission.

The Environment Secretary urged the former foreign secretary not to pull out of the race - in a reference to him quitting in the 2016 battle - and criticised the frontrunner's tax pledges.

Mr Gove said he anticipated he would be in the final two alongside Mr Johnson, and that he would tell him: "Whatever you do, don't pull out. I know you have before and I know you may not believe in your heart that you can do it, but the Conservative Party membership deserve a choice."

He also vowed to never use the tax and benefits system to "give the already wealthy another tax cut" - in an apparent dig at Mr Johnson, who has signalled a plan to slash the higher rate of income tax for people earning more than £50,000.

Mr Gove insisted he was still in the race to "win it" despite calls for him to withdraw over his cocaine admission.

He said he had explained his regret at his past mistakes after the revelation over the weekend that he took the drug in the 1990s cast a shadow over his campaign launch on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the campaign of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was bolstered by the backing of two Cabinet ministers - influential Remain supporter Amber Rudd and prominent Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt.

Mr Hunt positioned himself as a "serious leader" and warned that the Tories would be "annihilated" if they fought a general election before delivering Brexit.

Other contenders - including Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Mark Harper and Boris Johnson - are expected to launch their campaigns later this week.

The MPs - who each had the backing at least eight of their colleagues - will need at least 17 votes to get through the first ballot on Thursday - while the candidate with the lowest votes will be eliminated.

Mr Hancock pledged to increase the national living wage to more than £10 (€11.21) an hour, and said he would reduce taxes on working people "when we can afford it".

Mr Raab spelled out his desire to break from the EU by October 31 even without a deal if necessary, and called for a "generational change in leadership".

And Ms McVey promised public sector workers a pay rise and vowed to increase police spending and boost funding for education as she set out her vision for the country.

She told the Eurosceptic Bruges Group: "My clear agenda is to deliver Brexit on the 31st of October and then we must unite the country, and then unite our party too."

The 11 declared candidates became 10 just before the announcement as former minister Sam Gyimah said it had been a "tremendous privilege" to be able to make the case for a second referendum in the campaign, but had reached the conclusion that "there simply has not been enough time to build sufficient support, and I have decided to step back".

"My purpose in campaigning for a solution to break the deadlock, and bringing new ideas to help my party win over modern Britain, will not change," he said in a statement.

"I wish all the contenders the very best at this challenging time as they make the case to take our country forward."

PA Media

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