Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss says she would serve on cabinet led by Boris Johnson - but says yet to decide who to back

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, having ruled herself out of the Conservative leadership race, said she has yet to decide who to back - but would not have a problem with serving in a Boris Johnson-led cabinet.

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.

Unlike international development secretary and leadership contender Rory Stewart, Ms Truss told the Sunday Telegraph said she would have no problem with being part of a cabinet led by Mr Johnson.

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.

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"I could not serve with Boris Johnson."

In what could be interpreted as a dig at Mr Johnson, he 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."

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But chief secretary to the treasury Ms Truss, who backed Mr Johnson in the last leadership campaign, told the Sunday Telegraph the next leader must be someone who backed Brexit in 2016 - and that she would support no deal if negotiations have not brought a solution by October.

Asked if she would serve under Mr Johnson, Ms Truss said: "Yes. But, as I said, I haven't made a final decision and there are a number of candidates." But, apparently ruling out support for the likes of West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and home secretary Sajid Javid, who, like her, all backed Remain before the referendum, Ms Truss said: "In order to command public trust, we need someone who has backed Brexit from the start because of the situation we are in now." Mr Hancock, health secretary, announced his leadership bid on Saturday, telling the BBC he would take a more straightforward approach to Brexit than Mrs May.

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."

Environment scretary Michael Gove has confirmed he will formally enter the Conservative leadership race, after foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom also entered the fray.

Speaking to the Press Association from his London home, Mr Gove said: "I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country.

"I believe that I'm ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit, and ready to lead this great country."

Mr Gove's intervention is likely to cause concern to current front-runner Mr 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.

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."

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.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, who is the Conservative party chairman will oversee the contest.

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

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