Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt throws hat in ring for Conservative leadership race

Health Secretary Matt Hancock joins Jeremy Hunt in throwing his hat into the ring to replace Theresa May Tory leader – while Liam Fox refuses to rule himself out as a candidate

  • Hunt told Surrey constituents he will announce his candidacy in due course 
  • Boris Johnson is currently favourite to replace PM with several vying for top spot
  • Health secretary Matt Hancock and Dominic Raab are also among contenders  

Senior Tories wasted no time in entering the race to replace Theresa May yesterday – with Jeremy Hunt and party shop steward Graham Brady leading a scramble for No 10.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also expected to announce his candidacy today, while former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab will reveal his intentions tomorrow.

Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt heavily hinted that he will join the race to replace Mrs May as Tory leader as he delivered a speech in his Surrey constituency.

‘I’ll make the announcement on my own candidacy at the appropriate time,’ he told his local newspaper the Farnham Herald.

‘I think this is a day to remember Theresa May and her duty, her sense of public service, the fact that she has done an incredibly difficult job with enormous integrity, and I think that’s what people up and down the country will be thinking today.’

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured at Haselmere Festival today) heavily hinted that he will join the race to replace Mrs May as Tory leader as he delivered a speech in his Surrey constituency

He tweeted to pay tribute to Mrs May after her emotional resignation speech

He tweeted to pay tribute to Mrs May after her emotional resignation speech 

Sir Graham revealed his plan to succeed Mrs May as he met her in Downing Street to agree her timetable for departure. 

The influential backbencher last night stepped down as chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs and confirmed he was considering becoming a candidate.

A source said there was an awkward moment as Sir Graham revealed his intentions as he met with Mrs May, her chief-of-staff Gavin Barwell and Tory chairman Brandon Lewis.

In his role as 1922 chairman, Sir Graham was due to have a role in deciding the rules of the leadership contest before organising the ballots of Tory MPs. 

Last night he released a statement revealing he had resigned from the role so he could take soundings from colleagues on whether to launch a leadership bid. 

In the past few weeks, Sir Graham has acted as a middle man between Downing Street and Tory backbenchers. 

The Prime Minister announced her departure in an emotional statement on the steps of Downing Street today

Mrs May was overcome by tears as she spoke of her pride at having been PM, even though she admitted to having failed to deliver Brexit

Some members of the 1922 executive committee, of which he is chairman, had threatened to change leadership rules to oust Mrs May if she did not agree to step down.

One minister last night accused him of ‘an abuse of his position’ by plotting to take over while holding responsibility for agreeing with Mrs May when she would quit.

As 1922 committee chairman, Sir Graham was in charge of counting the letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister that led to a leadership challenge in December.

In January, he put forward the so-called Brady amendment to the Brexit deal, which called for the controversial Irish backstop to be replaced by ‘alternative arrangements’.

Sir Graham served as shadow education minister and then shadow Europe minister, but quit in 2007 in protest at David Cameron’s stance against grammar schools.

The self-described ‘grammar school martyr’ joined the party as a 16-year-old to campaign in support of selective education. He has been 1922 committee chairman since 2010.

Mr Hancock is due to be interviewed about his plans on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, while Mr Raab is booked to appear on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show tomorrow.

Hunt is pictured outside Downing Street in March

Hunt is pictured outside Downing Street in March 

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