Top Tories fight for pole position to become next PM as NINE candidates launch challenge to favourites Boris and Hunt

Top Tories fight for pole position to become next PM as NINE candidates launch challenge to favourites Boris and Hunt

WOULD-BE Tory leaders are today going public with their ambitions as the battle to replace Theresa May hots up.
At least nine MPs laid out a pitch for No10 in a bid to overtake the frontrunners such as Boris Johnson.
Tory leadership contenders include (from top left to bottom right) Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Liz Truss, Amber Rudd, Justine Greening, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Johnny Mercer, Esther McVey, Priti Patel and James Cleverly
The contenders vying for the job today include Cabinet ministers such as Amber Rudd, rebel Brexiteers like Dominic Raab and long-shot backbenchers including James Cleverly.
They span the whole of the Brexit spectrum, from Eurosceptic hardliner Esther McVey to Justine Greening, who backs a second referendum.
A leadership election is likely to take place over the summer after Mrs May announced she’ll quit after Brexit.
No one has publicly declared they want to stand – but they are jostling for position while the chaos continues.
Favourites Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove have remained silent over the weekend.
But less-fancied challengers have been putting their names forwards in a string of flashy media appearances.
I say what I like and wear what I likeLiz Truss
Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told the Sunday Times: “I just took a decision a while ago that I was going to say what I like and wear what I like.”
She called on the Government to cut taxes by up to £27billion and make it easier for Brits to get on the housing ladder.
Ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph laying out his plans to tackle knife crime.
Sajid Javid signalled his own leadership ambitions by letting it be known he’s working with top spin doctor Matthew Elliott, who ran the Leave campaign in the EU referendum.
Esther McVey is setting up a group called Blue Collar Conservatism to win over working-class voters – and build a support base among MPs.
Another top Tory involved with the group is backbencher and former soldier Johnny Mercer, who’s thought to be considering his own tilt at the top job.
Amber Rudd, the pro-EU Work and Pensions Secretary, sought to raise her profile by writing a joint article with daughter Flora to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Even if Ms Rudd doesn’t end up running she will be a key figure as the Cabinet’s best-known Remainer.
Ex-Cabinet minister Priti Patel made her pitch in a Sunday Express article where she blasted: “It really is time for firm leadership and we need to have the confidence to recognise that Britain can make a success of its future.”
James Cleverly, the party’s popular Deputy Chairman, also wrote for the paper and called on Tory MPs to “start addressing the divisions in our country”.
And Justine Greening, who was sacked as Education Secretary last year, suggested she may run for leader even though her support for a second referendum means she would have little chance of success.
She told the Sunday Times: “It’s 32 years since we had a landslide and we have to answer the question about why we have failed to connect with people and their ambitions.
“Until we have a leadership that understands why that’s happened, we won’t be able to change it.”
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But Jacob Rees-Mogg warned that only a Brexit true believer can lead the party.
After the leadership race formally begins, MPs will whittle the list of candidates down to two.
Tory activists then have the final say on which of the two contenders becomes party leader and Prime Minister.
PA:Press Association Theresa May has vowed to quit after Brexit
David Gauke says Theresa May will accept softer Brexit if Commons votes for it

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