Theresa May promises Brexit tsar

Launching her leadership campaign, the Home Secretary will say that there is no turning back on Brexit .

Published: 30th June 2016 08:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th June 2016 08:11 AM   |  A+A-


LONDON: Theresa May will today promise to put a pro-Brexit MP in charge of a department tasked with taking Britain out of the EU as she attempts to win the support of Eurosceptic backbenchers in the Tory leadership contest

Launching her leadership campaign, the Home Secretary will say that there is no turning back on Brexit and that quitting the EU will not be "brief or straightforward".

In what will be seen as a tacit criticism of David Cameron, Mrs May will also use a speech to say that Britain now needs a "vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us".

Her comments about a new government department for Brexit will be seen as an attempt to win over Eurosceptic MPs who are concerned about her decision to back Mr Cameron's

Remain campaign before the referendum.

She will pledge that the secretary of state of the new department to take Britain out of the EU will be an MP who campaigned for Leave.

Mrs May's allies are concerned that Boris Johnson's campaign team will argue that only someone who backed the Brexit campaign can be the next Prime Minister. Mrs May will use her speech to say that taking Britain out of the EU will require "significant expertise and a consistent approach".

"I will therefore create a new government department responsible for conducting Britain's negotiation with the EU and for supporting the rest of Whitehall in its European work," she will say.

"That department will be led by a senior secretary of state - and I will make sure that the position is taken by a member of Parliament who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU."

She will add: "The job now is about uniting the Party, uniting the country and negotiating the best possible deal for Britain."

Although her launch will attempt to unify the party under a positive campaign message, Mrs May's allies are already preparing for a bruising contest against Mr Johnson.

One friend of Mrs May's told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Johnson is "the most divisive person in British politics" and is not "credible" enough to run the country in the wake of the Brexit vote.

"Some people say it has to be a Brexit person," the source said. "My view is that it has to be the best person for the country. She's the only one who can steady the ship at a critical time.

"Outside the Westminster bubble there's carnage. Currency is going down, prices will go up. It's pretty grim.

"Boris has moved from being the Heineken politician to the Marmite politician. He is no longer a force for excitement. He is the most divisive person in British politics. As the pain bites people are going to blame him."

Mrs May yesterday vowed that there would be "no deals" with Mr Johnson in order to have a quick coronation of a new leader. A spokesman for the Home Secretary said that she would "rather lose" the leadership contest than do a bargain with Mr Johnson, who she has regularly clashed with in the past.

Mrs May received a boost yesterday after Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, said she would back the Home Secretary.

Ms Greening, who also backed Remain, told the Evening Standard: "She has the professionalism and steeliness required to look those bureaucrats in the eye and get the deal we need.

"Everyone knows the competence and experience she has shown as the longest serving Home Secretary in over 100 years.

"It is the toughest job in Government after that of Prime Minister and she has dealt with its challenges with immense professionalism."

John Hayes, the security minister in Mrs May's department, will today announce his support for Mr Johnson and say that the next Conservative leader must be from the "people who delivered the Brexit victory".

Other candidates who will declare for the Conservative Party leadership include Stephen Crabb, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary.

Andrea Leadsom, the Eurosceptic energy minister, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, are also considering launching rival leadership bids.

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