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Cleverly withdraws from Tory leadership contest, saying MPs weren’t ‘comfortable’ with plan to skip generation
Turning back to the Tory leadership contest for a moment, James Cleverly, the Brexit minister who was one of several unexpected contenders in the Conservative leadership contests (or no-hopers, if you want to be more cynical), has announced that he is withdrawing from the contest. As of this morning, he had just four MPs supporting him.
Brexit Minister James Cleverly has withdrawn from the Conservative Party’s leadership race, almost a week after declaring his intention to stand.
The Tory MP said it had “become clear” that was “highly unlikely” he would progress to the final two candidates that will appear on the ballot paper.
“Unfortunately and with a heavy heart I’ve decided to withdraw from the race,” he told the BBC.
This leaves 12 Tory MPs competing for the top job.
Explaining his decision in a statement on his website, he said:
Last week I announced that I intended to run for the leadership of the Conservative party and as prime minister.
I felt that we needed to deliver Brexit and then quickly move the conversation on to other important issues that face the country. I had hoped that the Conservative parliamentary party would support me to be the face and voice of that conversation.
To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP. It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party’s grassroots, MPs weren’t comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to be one of the final two candidates.
For this reason I have withdrawn from the process of selecting a new leader and will not be submitting nomination papers.