James Cleverly, the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party asked talkRADIO’s James Whale who he would put money on for a running race, Usain Bolt or Mo Farah to explain why “there is no point now speculating who the best leader is going to be until we know what the challenges are”.
Mr Cleverly, MP for Braintree told talkRADIO’s James Whale: “There are lots of people in the Conservative Party who I think could make very good Prime Ministers.
“But, we have got a very good Prime Minister and she is navigating the most tricky, difficult, challenging set of circumstances that you could possibly imagine.
“If we spend a whole load of time and effort daydreaming and speculating and plotting about somebody else that time, effort and mental power that we won’t be spending on what we should be doing which is Brexit.”
He added: “Speculating now what the future leader might be like is a bit like me saying to you bet everything you value, your mortgage, your career, your credibility on the outcome of a running race.
“There are only two competitors in this running race, one of them is Mo Farah and other one is Usain Bolt. I would say to you James, who would you put your money on? Who would you put every single penny on?”
When asked whether it was a sprint or a long distance race, Mr Cleverly said: “That’s the point."
He added: “That is the point I am making there is no point now speculating who the best leader of the Conservative Party is going to be until we know what the challenges we face us are, until we see what happens in the future.
“It’s fun, it is a lovely dinner party game, it is a lovely conversation to have over a pint.
“Theresa May is a long distance runner . The point I am saying is that the next leader of the Conservative Party after Theresa May, we won’t know what attributes we want them to have until we see what the future holds.”
‘Knife crime came down’
Mr Cleverly dismissed criticism of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying the criticism on him now was the same put to him before Mr Johnson became Mayor of London and “he was a good Mayor of London”.
He said: “I have worked with Boris and a lot of the criticism that people are levelling about him now is the same as what they were levelling at him before he became Mayor of London.
“They said about how he would make a terrible Mayor of London. When he was Mayor of London knife crime came down, houses got built, trees got planted, cycle lanes got made, people started cycling, the economy grew. He was a good Mayor of London.”
This comes as Johnson’s Daily Mail column received criticism from within the party after describing Mrs May’s Brexit strategy as a “suicide vest”.
Mr Johnson said: "We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution - and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.
"We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose - at any time - to crack apart the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
He added: “My job and I do it happily because it is a job that I very much believe in is making sure that the current Prime Minister and the current government deliver for the British people. That is what I am concentrating on. I am not going to get distracted about what happens next.”