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James Cleverly becomes 11th Tory MP to enter leadership race | UK News



Brexit minister James Cleverly has become the 11th Conservative MP to enter the race to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

In a letter to his constituents in Braintree, the pro-Leave politician said Brexit must be delivered, adding that “it would be best for the UK to leave the EU with some form of deal”.

The former deputy party chairman wrote that he has “never been blind to the complexities of the process”, and condemned those who offer “artificially simple solutions”.

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May: I hope EU election results will focus Parliament on the need to deliver Brexit

Mr Cleverly also called on the European Union to “recognise the need for flexibility” given how MPs in parliament have rejected Theresa May’s deal.

He continued: “It is my job in government is to oversee preparations for a no-deal Brexit. That this is not my preferred choice, but if it must happen, I am ready to lead through what may be difficult and uncharted waters. I have never ducked tough political decisions.”

And speaking to his local newspaper, the Braintree and Witham Times, Mr Cleverly admitted that succeeding the prime minister would be a “difficult challenge”.

Eleven Tories have now launched a leadership bid, and other candidates could join the contest in the coming days.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart are among the cabinet ministers who have thrown their hats into the ring.

Britain's Brexit paralysis served as a "vaccine" against the eurosceptic vote in the EU's parliamentary elections, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Tusk: Brexit a ‘vaccine’ against EU scepticism

Former cabinet ministers including Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey – as well as current housing minister Kit Malthouse – round off the list.

Two leadership candidates, Mr Hancock and Mr Raab, have signed up to a “clean campaign” pledge and urged their fellow contenders to do the same.

As part of the commitment, they have agreed not to “speak ill of fellow Conservatives”, stick to spending limits, and encourage supporters not to engage in abuse on social media.

Last week, Mrs May announced she will resign as Conservative Party leader on 7 June, but will continue as prime minister until the process to elect her successor is complete.

In the first stage of a Tory leadership election, MPs put their own names forward as candidates – with nominations due to close in the week beginning 10 June.

MPs then vote in a series of rounds to whittle the candidates down to a final two, with the MP with the fewest votes in each round being removed.

Party officials hope this stage of the process will be complete by the end of June.

The UK public sends a message to the bigger parties, as The Brexit Party and Lib Dems storm ahead of Labour and the Tories.

European elections: Winners and losers

In the second stage, the Conservative membership – estimated to be about 124,000 – is balloted on the two final candidates following a series of hustings around the UK to allow the party’s grassroots to quiz the pair.

Sky News has announced it plans to hold a live head-to-head debate as part of the leadership contest, with the final two candidates in the battle for Number 10 facing questions from a studio audience of Conservative voters.

The Conservatives hope to announce the result of the leadership election – and therefore the choice of a new prime minister – by the time parliament goes on its summer break, which usually occurs towards the end of July.

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