Boris quits race to succeed Cameron

UK Home minister launches bid to be PM

London: Britain’s powerful Home Secretary Theresa May launched her bid to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron as the front-runner Boris Johnson in a shock announcement ruled himself out of contention, making the race for Conservative party leadership a five-way contest.

After Johnson’s announcement not to contest, May is now the clear favourite as a unifying candidate after a referendum campaign that exposed deep divisions within the party, reports PTI.

The former London Mayor and top Brexit campaigner was seen as her main rival to replace Cameron who had announced to step down after the referendum results in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) last week. “My pitch is very simple. I’m Theresa May and I think I’m the best person to be prime minister of this country,” May, who has been the UK’s longest serving home secretary, said at a press conference.

She underlined that “Brexit means Brexit” as she announced that she will be running for party leadership contest, which is set to conclude by September 9.

“Our country needs strong proven leadership to negotiate the best possible terms for the UK leaving the EU. Brexit means Brexit.

The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public has given its verdict,” the 59-year-old Conservative party leader said, adding, “We need leadership that can unite our party and our country”.

May, who was appointed Home minister by Cameron in 2010 and again after last year’s general elections, said that among her first jobs as the Prime Minister would be to create a new government department responsible for negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU, headed by an MP who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.

She spoke about invoking Article 50, the formal procedure for leaving the EU, which Cameron has left for his successor to do.

“Article 50 should not be invoked before the end of the year,” she said. She argued that under her leadership the Conservative Party will come back together, not just for Remain or Brexit, but for the whole country.

“I know I’m not a showy politician…I don’t go drinking in Parliament’s bars. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, I just get on with the job in front of me and you can judge me by my record,” May said. Calling for an “open contest”, she added: “Whether it’s a woman or a man it’s about the qualities of the people doing the job.” If May succeeds in her bid to be the Prime Minister, she will become Britain’s second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher, someone she has been inevitably compared with due to her no-nonsense political demeanour and smart wardrobe.

The Conservative party leadership race took a surprising turn in the final hours of the nominations deadline as Johnson ruled himself out of the race to succeed Cameron.

“Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances of Parliament I have concluded that person (party leader) cannot be me,” Johnson told reporters at a press conference just before the deadline closed all nominations. His shock announcement came as justice secretary Michael Gove, his key aide in the Brexit campaign and widely expected to back his leadership bid, threw his own hat in the ring instead with a stinging attack on the former London mayor.

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