Ten MPs enter first round of voting in Tory leadership race as Gyimah quits

Ten candidates have secured the necessary nominations to enter the first round of voting in the Tory leadership race.

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.

POLITICS Tories
Tory leadership contest timetable (PA Graphics)

Environment Secretary 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 Foreign Secretary’s campaign 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 fight 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 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 statement on the Conservative Party leadership contest. pic.twitter.com/Fm5sE4h7TI

— Sam Gyimah MP (@SamGyimah) June 10, 2019

“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.”

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