The rush is on to replace UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who resigned after failing to deliver on Brexit. Things got more crowded with cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Matt Hancock and former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom signalling their intent to run.
Gove, the environment secretary and a staunch Brexiteer, is telling colleagues he’s the best person to complete the exit from the European Union, according to two newspapers.
Leadsom, who quit her post three days ago, will also run, a spokeswoman said. Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab declared his intent in a commentary in the Mail on Sunday, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced his candidacy on Sky News.
“We must deliver Brexit, and I will deliver Brexit,” Hancock said on Sky. “We need to move this country forward.”
The latest candidates join former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, his successor Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, and former Works and Pension Secretary Esther McVey as potential successors to May, according to the BBC.
Johnson, a former mayor of London, has emerged as a front-runner in the contest for the leadership post triggered when May announced her plans. The outcome will shape the direction of Brexit with all options, including leaving without a deal, back on the table. May will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7.
Gove has told Conservatives in parliament that he is the best candidate to take on opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and take over the
government to deliver on Brexit, according to the Sunday Telegraph. He notes his role in running three government departments: education, justice and environment.
Gove, 51, is a long-time Brexiteer, unlike other, more recent converts, which will satisfy the Tory grassroots. His public loyalty to May, and a House of Commons speech ridiculing Corbyn, have put him in poll position as a unity candidate among Conservatives, though he’s a divisive figure nationwide.