Kit Malthouse second MP to pull out of leadership race

Kit Malthouse second MP to pull out of leadership race

The housing minister is the second MP to pull out of the leadership race in less than 24 hours

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Kit Malthouse has announced he has withdrawn from the Conservative leadership race.

The Conservative MP for North West Hampshire is the second to pull out of the leadership race, following James Cleverly’s decision to step down on Tuesday morning.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Mr Malthouse said: "When I announced my intention to seek the leadership of the Conservative Party, I did so believing that I could make a real difference in delivering a Brexit that would command the support of the House of Commons.”

He added: "But that experience has also made me a realist and the last few days have demonstrated that there is an appetite for this contest to be over quickly and for the nation to have a new leader in place as soon as possible.

"As such, it seems right to me that I withdraw my candidature and wish those remaining the very best, always recognising there are going to be very challenging times ahead."

It leaves 11 candidates in the race to become the next Conservative leader as Theresa May is set to step down as Prime Minister on Friday.

Junior Brexit minister James Cleverly stepped down earlier on Tuesday, acknowledging it had become clear it was “highly unlikely” he would be one of the final two candidates.

In a statement he said he felt the Conservative Party needed to deliver Brexit and then “quickly move the conversation on”.

“To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP.”

He added: “It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party’s grassroots, MPs weren’t comfortable with such a move.”

The junior Brexit minister was the eleventh candidate to join the leadership race last week, and talkRADIO’s Alastair Stewart that he would “be a better leader” than Boris Johnson.

Mr Cleverly was one of several leadership hopefuls pledging to run a “clean campaign”.

The campaign, also backed by Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock, makes candidates pledge to avoid attacking their rivals, over fears the campaigns could tear the party apart.

The Braintree MP had always been a longshot candidate, with bookmakers rating his chances between 25/1 and 500/1.

Before he stepped down he’d received backing from only three MPs, compared to the more than 20 supporting the frontrunners.

Changes have been confirmed to the Tory leadership rules to make it harder for outsiders to stand and to speed up the process of reaching a final two candidates.

A call for candidates will be made on Friday, with nominations opening at 10am on Monday and closing at 5pm the same day.

Leadership hopefuls will be required to submit a nomination that includes a proposer, a seconder and six other MPs supporting their campaign. 

The first ballot will take place on June 13, with any candidates receiving 16 votes or fewer being eliminated. 

In a joint statement, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis and the acting joint chairs of the 1922 Committee Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker said: "After the second ballot, any candidate receiving 32 votes or fewer will be eliminated.

"If the ballot thresholds are met by all candidates, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated.

"Balloting will continue until two candidates remain."

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