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Theresa May launches bid to be UK PM, Boris Johnson backs down

Britain’s Powerful Home Secretary Theresa May Launched Her Bid To Succeed Prime Minister David Cameron As The Front-runner Boris Johnson In A Surprise Announcement Ruled Himself Out Of Contention, Making The Race For Conservative Party Leadership A Five-way Contest.

PTI | Updated on: 01 Jul 2016, 09:47:03 AM

London:

Britain’s powerful Home Secretary Theresa May launched her bid to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron as the front-runner Boris Johnson in a surprise announcement ruled himself out of contention, making the race for Conservative party leadership a five-way contest.

After Johnson’s announcement not to contest, May is now the clear favourite as a unifying candidate after a referendum campaign that exposed deep divisions within the party.

The former London Mayor and top Brexit campaigner was seen as her main rival to replace Cameron who had announced he will step down after the referendum results in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) last week.

“My pitch is very simple. I’m Theresa May and I think I’m the best person to be prime minister of this country,” May, who has been the UK’s longest serving home secretary, said at a press conference.

She underlined that “Brexit means Brexit” as she announced that she will be running for party leadership contest, which is set to conclude by September 9.

“Our country needs strong proven leadership to negotiate the best possible terms for the UK leaving the EU. Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public has given its verdict,” the 59-year-old Conservative party leader said, adding, “We need leadership that can unite our party and our country”.

May, who was appointed Home minister by Cameron in 2010 and again after last year’s general elections, said that among her first jobs as the Prime Minister would be to create a new government department responsible for negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU, headed by an MP who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.

She spoke about invoking Article 50, the formal procedure for leaving the EU, which Cameron has left for his successor to do.

“Article 50 should not be invoked before the end of the year,” she said.

She argued that under her leadership the Conservative Party will come back together, not just for Remain or Brexit, but for the whole country.

“I know I’m not a showy politician...I don’t go drinking in Parliament’s bars. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, I just get on with the job in front of me and you can judge me by my record,” May said.

Calling for an “open contest”, she added: “Whether it’s a woman or a man it’s about the qualities of the people doing the job.”

If May succeeds in her bid to be the Prime Minister, she will become Britain’s second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher, someone she has been inevitably compared with due to her no-nonsense political demeanour and smart wardrobe.

 “Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances of Parliament I have concluded that person (party leader) cannot be me,” Johnson told reporters at a press conference just before the deadline closed all nominations.

His surprise announcement came as justice secretary Michael Gove, his key aide in the Brexit campaign and widely expected to back his leadership bid, threw his own hat in the ring instead with a stinging attack on Johnson.

“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. I have, therefore, decided to put my name forward for the leadership,” Gove said in a statement earlier today.

Another Tory Brexit champion, Andrea Leadson, who was also expected to back Johnson also announced she would herself be running for leadership.

“Delighted to say I’m running for the @Conservatives Leadership. Let’s make the most of the Brexit opportunities!

#FreshStart,” the minister of state for energy in the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change tweeted.

Others who had already confirmed their candidature include work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb and former defence secretary Liam Fox, making it a five-way contest.

A short-list of two candidates will move forward to the final stages of voting by party members.

Whoever next ends up in No. 10 Downing Street will begin extracting the UK from the economic bloc as Cameron said it will be the new Prime Minister who will take the negotiations forward.

The party’s executive committee has finalised the time-frame for the contest so that a new leader and PM is declared by September 9. 

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First Published : 01 Jul 2016, 09:43:00 AM

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