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Race to succeed Theresa May kicks off with split over no-deal Brexit | Politics News

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A Conservative leadership hopeful has declared she would take Britain out of the EU with no deal – despite up to 60 Tory MPs being ready to block any candidate planning to do so.

Esther McVey, the former work and pensions secretary, said it was “essential” that Brexit happens by the next deadline of 31 October.

She warned there would be “no more backsliding” and confirmed that “if it means without a deal, we’ll be out”.

But, earlier, Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames announced dozens of Conservative MPs were ready to try and stop a no-deal candidate replacing Theresa May.

Theresa May leaving No 10 Downing Street
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The unofficial race is on to replace Theresa May

No formal leadership contest has yet been announced, but a series of MPs have announced their intention to stand as pressure grows on the prime minister to resign sooner than she plans.

Speaking at the launch of her “Blue Collar Conservatism” campaign in the House of Commons, Ms McVey – who has already stated her intent to replace Mrs May – said delivering Brexit on time would neutralise the threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

She told Sky News the new leader “has to be a Brexiteer”.

EU flag outside Westminster
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The Tory leadership contest could be split over a no-deal Brexit

“It has to be someone who believes, who’s got the passion to drive it forward,” said Ms McVey, who quit the cabinet over the PM’s Brexit deal with Brussels.

Other Leave-supporting MPs who may throw their hat into the ring and have suggested they could support a no-deal divorce include former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

But a counter-initiative is being launched by a group of “One Nation Conservatives” – including Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan.

It is threatening to team up to block a no-deal advocate becoming Tory leader after Mrs May.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (left) and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd leave after a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, before Chancellor George Osborne delivers his first Tory-only Budget.
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Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd are teaming up to launch a new group

Sir Nicholas Soames, who is part of the group, told Sky News it has 60 members, adding: “I don’t think we will want to vote for anyone who is going to propagate a no-deal situation.

“We’re not all going to vote for one candidate, that’s just not going to happen.

“But we will try and recommend to our colleagues and friends in One Nation who we believe to most likely to represent the interests and principles and values of One Nation Conservatism.”

It comes after a minister vented his frustration with Conservative colleagues jockeying to become prime minister, urging them to focus on getting Brexit “across the line” first.

Tobias Ellwood told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Let’s have some loyalty, let’s have some commitment, let’s have some discipline.”

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