Suffolk Tories expect to see leadership election field shrink next week

Tom Hunt wants to see Boris Johnson get off a battlebus in Ipswich. Photo : Steve Adams

Tom Hunt wants to see Boris Johnson get off a battlebus in Ipswich. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

At the end of a momentous week in British politics, Conservative MPs and activists are still trying to come to terms with what is happening to their party – and what its next move should be.

Ipswich Conservative Candidate Tom Hunt. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich Conservative Candidate Tom Hunt. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Last Thursday voters took part in the European elections and the following day Theresa May finally announced a date for her to stand down as party leader - triggering a leadership election and the eventual appointment of a new Prime Minister.

MPs have not been at Westminster this week - it is the Whitsun Parliamentary Recess - but that has not stopped them politicking back in their constituencies.

So far 11 Conservatives have confirmed they are running for the party leadership, and premiership, although it is expected that number could fall once some start talking to colleagues, realise that their case is hopeless, and back one of the front-runners in the hope of getting a seat in the cabinet.

Two more, Essex MP and former cabinet minister Priti Patel and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, are rumoured to be considering entering the race - but a filming assignment by Ms Patel which some thought was a launch promotion turned out to be a video for the "Leave means Leave" Brexit pressure group.

Ipswich Conservative candidate Tom Hunt has backed Boris Johnson's leadership bid - but said other candidates also interested him.

He said: "(Braintree MP) James Cleverly is very interesting. He's a relatively new MP and is determined to ensure we leave the EU at the end of October.

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"But what it comes down to is who I, as a candidate in a marginal seat, want to see coming out of the Tory battlebus during the next general election campaign. And at the moment that is clear - Boris Johnson is the person who can reach out to the voters and encourage them to vote for the party."

Mr Hunt felt that Mr Johnson was someone who would follow traditional "one nation" Tory policies to appeal to voters once the UK had finally left the EU.

Meanwhile Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, who is still deciding who to support in the leadership contest expects the field to contract.

He said: "Some of those who have declared so far really don't look like serious candidates. I'm expecting the number to fall once reality hits them."

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