Iron Throne does not tempt me – David Lidington

The Iron Throne does not seem tempting, David Lidington has insisted as other senior Tories indicate an interest in becoming the next leader.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnston is among the number who have expressed an interest in succeeding Theresa May as Conservative Party leader.

Mr Lidington emphasised that he will support the Prime Minister for the rest of her term in office, adding that the focus should be on getting the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament.

The Cabinet Minister was speaking during a visit to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland which is set to host The Open.

When asked if he intended to throw his hat in the ring in a future Conservative Party leadership contest, Mr Lidington said it does not tempt him.

“When you have worked as closely with the Prime Minister as I have in the last years and a bit, the Iron Throne is not too tempting, you see all the downside,” he said.

“But my general approach to this is, look, there is no vacancy at the minute, my job is to support the PM which I will do throughout her time in office.

“She is somebody motivated entirely by the national interest, she is not interested in grandstanding, headlines but really a sober sense of public duty is what motivates her.

“I think that is admirable, I think people respect that and I support her for that reason.

“I think that the Prime Minister deserves support, no new Conservative leader would change the numbers in the House of Commons, or change the nature of the decisions that face Government and Parliament both.”

Mr Lidington expressed frustration that the Withdrawal Agreement has not been agreed by the House of Commons.

“It is in the interests of whoever is the next Conservative Party leader, whenever that leadership election takes place, that we have settled this first stage of the European issue because then when that is over there needs to be a detailed negotiation about our future trade and political relationship with the European Union,” he said.

“That can only start when we have actually left and I think settling phase one would be the right start for the new Conservative Party leader whenever he or she is elected.

“It is frustrating that Parliament has not been able to deliver on the referendum result and I think that most of the public don’t follow all the ins and outs, all the details of the Europe debate, they want this sorted, they want their politicians to work together if needs be, across party lines, but above all, I think they want this issue settled because they want Parliament and Government to be talking about things like housing, jobs, education, the NHS, which matter to people in their daily lives.

“I think that we have to continue to make the case for the Withdrawal Agreement, it’s very clear from the EU that the Withdrawal Agreement is not going to be altered, that’s not just an opinion, that’s our formal legal decision of the European Union 27, but to persuade people that this is the right way forward.

“And the Bill will provide opportunities for people to vote if they want to look to changes perhaps in terms of our future negotiating position, well they have got the opportunity to do that as the Bill is taken through Parliament.”