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Norfolk MP pens desirable values for new Tory leader

PUBLISHED: 07:17 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 23 May 2019

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Keiron Tovell

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Keiron Tovell

Keiron Tovell

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has written a set of values Tory leadership hopefuls must be tested against, as prime minister Theresa May's days look numbered.

Mr Freeman, and fellow Conservatives in the One Nation Conservatives Group, met on Monday and there was suggestion they could go against any leadership candidate who could bring a no-deal Brexit.

The move would put Mr Freeman at odds with his fellow Norfolk MP Liz Truss, who has been tipped as a leadership contender, who told BBC Newsnight last week that if MPs faced "a straight choice between revoking Brexit and no dealing, we have to no deal."

One source from the One Nation group told the Times: "We're not going for anyone who suggests a no-deal Brexit straight away on October 31."

But when pressed Nicky Morgan, who chairs the group, said: "This is not about personalities, not about one particular outcome to Brexit."

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Margot James said it "would be difficult" for a no-deal candidate to meet the criteria.

It comes as the prime minister's deal, which opens up the possibility of a second referendum, was described as "dead on arrival", with the prospect of a larger Tory revolt than her previous failed attempt to get a Brexit agreement through parliament.

Leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab were among Tories who backed Mrs May's deal in March but have vowed to oppose the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).

Rejection of the WAB would heap further pressure on Mrs May to quit immediately, but some Tories called on her to go now without even risking the humiliation of a fourth Commons defeat on Brexit.

When she does leave, the One Nation Conservatives who as well as Mr Freeman include Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Rory Stewart, and ministers Caroline Nokes, Margot James and Tobias Ellwood, said they would test any new leader against a set of values including a rejection of "narrow nationalism".

The set of values were written by Mr Freeman, a former Downing Street policy advisor.

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