Amber Rudd's new Tory group in bid to block leadership candidates who back no-deal Brexit
A new group of pro-Remain Conservatives is set to try and block any Tory leadership candidate who backs a no-deal Brexit, it has emerged.
The One Nation Caucus, which is being spearheaded by Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, will reportedly issue a manifesto-style "declaration of values" on Monday that it hopes will shape the election of a new Tory leader once Theresa May steps down.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the new group will take aim at Conservative leadership hopefuls, including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, who back a no-deal exit from the European Union, a move which is also being touted by the new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage.
A source told the paper that the new 60-strong Conservative caucus would work to "stop any leadership candidate who endorses a 'Nigel Farage no-deal Brexit' which would damage the economy and make it harder to release public funds".
Ms Rudd, one of those in Cabinet being talked up as a potential leadership contender, meanwhile warned that the "old consensus of fact-based debate is slipping away from us".
The Work and Pensions Secretary said: "Instead extremist politics is dividing the country and bringing forward simple answers to complex questions.
"These forces deal in emotion, rather than facts. Extremism, on the left and right, are now the pincer movement against those of us who want a pragmatic, compassionate centre right government."
Ms Rudd will lead the new group alongside ex-Cabinet minsters Damian Green and Nicky Morgan, as well as Conservative grandee Sir Nicholas Soames.
Sir Nicholas urged the party not to "succumb to the comfort blanket of populism".
The Sunday Telegraph also reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond will this week make an intervention in the Conservative leadership race and warn candidates against spreading the "ideology of easy answers", as he criticises "blank cheque" tax-and-spending promises in a speech to the CBI business lobby group.
Up to 20 Conservative MPs are thought to be mulling leadership bids, including Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Jeremy Hunt.
A poll of Tory members released by The Times this weekend put Boris Johnson, the ex-foreign secretary, on 39% support among Conservative party members, streets ahead of nearest rival and fellow Brexiteer Dominic Raab on 13%.
The poll showed that in a head-to-head contest, Mr Johnson leads Mr Raab 59% to 41%.