Leadership race hots up

Leadsom support swells as Tory MPs desert ‘traitor’ Gove

Andrea Leadsom Tory literatureConservative MPs are deserting Michael Gove and throwing their support behind the energy minister Andrea Leadsom who is emerging as the main rival to Theresa May.

According to Westminster sources, 30 Tories who were expected to back Boris Johnson have switched to Mrs Leadsom.

Their decision may be seen as a sign of their disapproval of Mr Gove’s ‘betrayal’ of the chief Brexit leader.

Endorsement for Mrs Leadsom will also pitch an anti-European against the pro-Remain Mrs May.

It also raises the prospect once again of an outsider emerging to secure the party leadership, as happened with Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

Among those supporting Mrs Leadsom is Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, who says she has the best chance to create a new relationship between Britain and the rest of the world.

By contrast, only five MPs attended Mr Gove’s leadership launch and he is under pressure to withdraw his candidacy.

Mrs May is still the most likely to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader. A decision is expected before 2 September and she has 90 MPs behind her campaign.

Stephen Crabb, who succeeded Mr Duncan Smith, has 21 supporters and former Foreign Secretary Liam Fox nine.


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