Esther McVey says next Tory leader must 'believe in Brexit'
Theresa May's successor as Prime Minister must "believe in Brexit" and be prepared to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, according to Esther McVey.
The former Cabinet minister appeared to take a swipe at leadership rivals who backed Remain in the referendum as she launched her 'Blue Collar Conservatism' group.
Ms McVey was the first Tory MP to officially throw her hat into the ring to succeed Mrs May, who has vowed to stand down regardless of whether or not the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is backed by MPs next month.
The Tatton MP, who campaigned for Leave in 2016, said there can be no more "backsliding" on Brexit and insisted the UK must leave on the 31 October deadline with or without a deal.
Asked whether Mrs May's successor must back Brexit, she said: "It has to be a Brexiteer I believe, because it has to be someone who believes in Brexit and delivers on our manifesto."
Pressed on whether the likes of Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid - who both voted Remain but now say they back Brexit - would be good enough, she replied: "It has to be a Brexiteer who believes in Brexit. However they voted they can tell you, but it has to be somebody who believes and has the passion to drive it forward."
The former Work and Pensions Secretary, who resigned last year in protest at the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, added: "We know that people want Brexit delivered and that's essential and what is also key is that on 31 October, we will be out.
"No more backsliding - even if it means we're out without a deal, we will be out."
Ms McVey also ruled out an electoral pact with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, which is currently well ahead of the Tories in the polls.
She said: "We are the Conservative Party. We will be aiming to get a Conservative majority. If we deliver Brexit, then there won't need to be a Brexit Party."
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith was among a number of the party's MPs who attended the Blue Collar Conservatism launch.
Treasury minister John Glen, former frontbencher Rob Halfon, and backbenchers Eddie Hughes, Ben Bradley and Scott Mann were also there as Ms McVey said the Tories should be "the party of working people".
She said: "A majority of those voters voted to leave the EU and on this we have broken their trust. To win that trust back we must not only deliver what was promised, but be prepared to have a radical Conservative agenda to show we are on their side."
Ms McVey said a Tory government should slash taxes and boost apprenticeships while also investing in public services in the same way the last Labour government did.