Elizabeth Truss confirms she will not stand in Conservative leadership race

Elizabeth Truss will not be standing in the Conservative party's leadership race. Picture: Matthew U

Elizabeth Truss will not be standing in the Conservative party's leadership race. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has ruled herself out of the Conservative leadership race.

Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, confirmed in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that she will not be joining the race to be Prime Minister, triggered by Theresa May's resignation on Friday.The news was revealed late Saturday night. Earlier in the day, her constituency neighbour, Matt Hancock, confirmed he would be joining the race.

Ms Truss told the Sunday Telegraph that the next leader must be someone who backed Brexit in 2016.

She told the paper: "We're now in a critical situation. There's been a short time frame set for the contest and I don't want to be part of prolonging that process."

She later tweeted: "We need to revive the Olympic 2012 spirit - a modern, patriotic, enterprising vision of Britain and we need to use Brexit to achieve that."

Ms Truss had been considered to be in the running for the Number 10 hotseat - albeit as an outsider.

Mr Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, had earlier told the BBC that he would take a more straightforward approach to Brexit than Mrs May.

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He later tweeted: "I am standing to be prime minister. We need a leader for the future, not just for now.

"I will deliver Brexit - and then let's move forward to the bright future we must build for Britain."

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Environment secretary Michael Gove is expected to enter the race to be the next prime minister today (Sunday) as the fight for the Tory crown showed signs of turning increasingly bitter.

The Press Association understands prominent Brexiteer Mr Gove will join an already crowded field after foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom also entered the fray.

As the Tory battle for Downing Street intensifies, Mr Gove's intervention is likely to cause concern to current front-runner Boris Johnson.

A spectacular fall out between the two former allies in the 2016 leadership contest helped destroy both men's chances of the top job.

Mr Gove is posing as a self-styled "unity candidate" as he attends the Hay Festival on Sunday.

Mr Hunt claimed his business background would help resolve Brexit as the leadership tussle fired up with International Development Secretary Rory Stewart launching a strongly-worded attack on Mr Johnson.

Both Mr Raab and Mrs Leadsom said they would be prepared to order a no-deal Brexit in October if necessary.

Mr Hunt told The Sunday Times: "If I was prime minister, I'd be the first prime minister in living memory who has been an entrepreneur by background.

"Doing deals is my bread and butter as someone who has set up their own business."

In a reference to mythical sea monsters, Mr Hunt said. "The real question is: who has got the experience to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of no deal or no Brexit. I've got very important experience in that respect.

"We can never take no deal off the table but the best way of avoiding it is to make sure you have someone who is capable of negotiating a deal."

The comments came after Mr Johnson insisted he would take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

Mr Raab has told the Mail on Sunday he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but said the UK must "calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave in October - at the latest".

Mrs Leadsom, whose resignation helped trigger Mrs May's dramatic resignation statement, told The Sunday Times that if elected PM, the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal.

She said: "To succeed in a negotiation you have to be prepared to walk away."

Sparks began to fly in the contest with Mr Stewart saying he would refuse to serve in a government led by Mr Johnson as he appeared to compare the ex-foreign secretary to Pinocchio.

Mr Stewart was scathing about Mr Johnson's no deal stance, insisting that such a position was "damaging and dishonest".

He told the BBC: "I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit.

"I could not serve with Boris Johnson."

In a clear dig at Mr Johnson, the International Development Secretary tweeted: "The star name will not always be the best choice.

"There may be times when Jiminy Cricket would make a better leader than Pinocchio."

Labour has said it will trigger a Commons no-confidence vote in the new prime minister when they take office.

The new Tory leader looks set to take over as prime minister at the end of July after Mrs May finally laid out a timetable for her exit from Downing Street.

The timetable for the contest will see nominations close in the week of June 10, with MPs involved in a series of votes to whittle down what is set to be a crowded field to a final two contenders.

Tory party members will then decide who wins the run-off.

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