Esther McVey backs Boris Johnson as rivals hint they could work for him

Posted On: 
16th June 2019

Former Tory leadership contender Esther McVey has thrown her weight behind Boris Johnson - as Michael Gove and Sajid Javid hinted that they could join his Cabinet if he wins.

Esther McVey said she would 'wholeheartedly support' Boris Johnson's campaign to be leader.
Credit: 
PA

The ex-Work and Pensions Secretary hailed the Conservative frontrunner as "the man best equipped to take us out of the EU", and said he had signed up to her 'Blue Collar Conservative' agenda to boost public sector pay and focus on the low-paid.

Meanwhile Michael Gove said he could "absolutely" work with Mr Johnson, while Sajid Javid said both he and Mr Johnson represented "change candidates".

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Ms McVey was knocked out of the race to succeed Theresa May this week after securing the backing of just nine MPs in the first Conservative leadership ballot.

By contrast, Mr Johnson now leads the pack after 114 MPs endorsed him for the top job.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ms McVey said she had used her own short-lived leadership campaign to make "the case for putting more money into schooling, policing and for providing a public sector pay guarantee".

She added: "These are the policies we need if we are to win back the voters we lost in droves at the EU elections.

"That’s why I am delighted that Boris Johnson has today committed to this Blue Collar Conservatism agenda.

"I will wholeheartedly support him in his bid to become the leader of our great party and country, and I look forward to working with him to deliver for Blue Collar Conservatives all over the country."

The Tatton MP heaped praise on Mr Johnson as a "dynamic leader, capable of building a strong team around him" to ensure Brexit happens on 31 October - and argued that he was best placed to avoid the "economic carnage" of a Labour government.

Welcoming the endorsement, Mr Johnson said: "Esther ran a great campaign with a positive message for the UK, especially the communities abandoned by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in the Midlands and the North.

"She’s right to be proud of our timeless values, as I would be as prime minister. She has set out clearly the blue-collar conservatism agenda – particularly in relation to supporting schools, police and other public services.

"This is something I’ve already signalled I want to take forward in government, with my pledge to ensure proper secondary school funding across the board."

GOVE: BORIS A BIG FIGURE

The former Tory hopeful's backing for Mr Johnson came as Mr Javid and Mr Gove both signalled their willingness to work with the frontrunner.

Mr Gove - who torpedoed Mr Johnson's 2016 leadership campaign and this week launched a volley of attacks on the ex-foreign secretary - told The Sunday Times that his rival was "a big figure with an important part to play in this country’s future".

And the former Vote Leave ally of Mr Johnson added: "I would absolutely work with Boris in any way that he wanted to work with me... No question."

Meanwhile Mr Javid drew parallels with his own campaign and that of Mr Johnson, as he pleaded with Tory MPs to put him through to the final round of the leadership contest.

The Home Secretary told The Sunday Times: "We need change. And Boris is change. But I’m change too. And there are only two change candidates in the remaining six. And that’s me and Boris. Boris has booked himself a place in the final two."

The second ballot of Conservative MPs will take place on Tuesday, with candidates needing at least 33 votes to go through to the next round.

A vote of the wider Conservative party membership will take place once the field has been narrowed down to just two candidates.