Tory leader frontrunner backed by Hampshire MPs

Home Secretary and leadership candidate for the Conservative Party Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday
Home Secretary and leadership candidate for the Conservative Party Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday
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POLITICIANS have backed the frontrunner in the race to become Tory leader and prime minister, a first ballot among party MPs revealed.

Five out of seven MPs in the area back home secretary Theresa May, who emerged frontrunner in the leadership fight yesterday.

She won 165 votes from party MPs out of the 329 who were voting, putting her well ahead of her four rivals.

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom was second with 66 votes, while Liam Fox lost his bid when he won just 16 votes.

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, Havant’s Alan Mak, Meon Valley’s George Hollingbery and East Hampshire’s Damian Hinds all support Mrs May.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt supports pro-Brexit Andrea Leadsom, who won 66 votes, while Fareham’s Suella Fernandes supports the justice secretary and Michael Gove who got 48.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb received 34 votes and later bowed out, backing Mrs May instead.

Another ballot will be held on Thursday.

The final two will then be put to the Conservative Party’s 150,000 members.

Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, will vote for Mrs May.

He said it was a ‘difficult decision’ for people to make but Mrs May is a ‘safe pair of hands’ who can give the country stability.

He added: ‘I don’t necessarily think that we have to have somebody from the Brexit camp to be prime minister.

‘I think they should be looking at Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as the best people to negotiate us out.

‘We would find ourselves in a situation where they’re not involved – they could sit on the sidelines saying we didn’t have the best deal.’

It comes after Tory grandee Ken Clarke made unguarded comments about the contenders while at Sky News.

He called Mrs May a ‘difficult woman’ adding to Sir Malcolm Rifkind: ‘But you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher.’

Of Mr Gove he said: ‘I think with Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once.’

He added: ‘I don’t think either Andrea Leadsom or Boris Johnson actually are in favour of leaving the European Union.’