Tory MPs form new One Nation group in bid to block hardline Brexiteers in leadership race
Dozens of Tory MPs have joined forces for a new “compassionate Conservatism” faction to try and block right-wing candidates in the party's next leadership contest.
Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, Greg Clark, David Gauke and David Mundell are named among a new 40-50-strong moderate bloc known as the One Nation group seeking to back a candidate committed to blocking a no-deal Brexit.
It is understood that group formed after a number of secret meetings and dinners held by MPs who fear hardline Brexiteers are hijacking the party.
Ms Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is co-chairing the group with former minister Nicky Morgan, with Tory colleagues Damian Green and Nicholas Soames also on the board.
The body is seeking to host hustings as a way to influence the outcome of the leadership contest.
According to The Sunday Times, the Work and Pensions Secretary is already being “wooed” by frontrunners, and has made it clear she wants the next leader to share her “one-nation ideals”.
Tory heavyweights such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Jeremy Hunt are among those also expected to throw their hat into the ring when Theresa May steps down.
According to the Observer, several Conservative MPs have likened the leadership battle to the Grand National due to the number of names being discussed.
But one MP told the paper: The problem with the Grand National is that there’s a real danger the 80-1 knacker comes home”.
Another added: "Quality horses go to Cheltenham. The nags go to Aintree."
Meanwhile, Esther McVey is said to be relaunching the “Blue Collar Conservatism” group along with fellow Tories Johnny Mercer, Lee Rowley and Scott Mann, according to the SundayTelegraph.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and education minister Nadhim Zahawi are MPs named among the group's up-to-100 supporters.
Ms McVey, the former work and pensions secretary, previously said she would consider running for party leader if she had enough support.