Justine Greening: No need for Tory leadership contest if Boris Johnson and Theresa May make a deal
Theresa May and Boris Johnson should come to an arrangement to bypass the need for a leadership contest, a Conservative Cabinet minister has said.
Ms May and Mr Johnson are currently the two frontrunners to take over from David Cameron – though neither has formally declared their candidacy.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, has called for them to reach a deal to unite the party, as the Government begins to digest the implications of the decision to leave the European Union.
“Every day we spend on a leadership contest is a day that would be better spent getting on with making the most of Britain’s new future outside the EU,” she said.
In a piece for ConservativeHome, Ms Greening argued pro-Brexit Mr Johnson and Remain supporter Ms May could bring together the different flanks of the Conservatives.
“They both have crucial roles to play. And they both command huge respect, inside and outside the party,” she said.
“A leadership contest now is not in the interests of our country. It will mean our party focuses inward – at the very time our country most needs us to focus outward.
“Instead of a leadership contest which could take weeks and months, Boris and Theresa should agree to forge a deal which means they are a united leadership, under one or the other: a united leadership that for the sake of unity I hope the rest of our party could support.
“Ideally and in normal times, the full party membership would have its say, but there some moments when you absolutely have to put the country’s interests first, particularly following this referendum that our own party was so instrumental in enabling to be held.”
When he announced he was standing down, Mr Cameron said he wanted a new leader in place by the time of the Conservative conference in October.
Mr Johnson and Ms May are two of a number of names – including Nicky Morgan, Stephen Crabb, Andrea Leadsom, and Liam Fox – linked with the top job.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said this morning Mr Johnson would have to account for the “contradictory promises” he made during the referendum campaign if he stands for the leadership.
Business Minister Anna Soubry has also hit out at the former Mayor of London, expressing her “anger” with her Tory colleague.
It has been reported, meanwhile, that allies of Mr Cameron are looking to Ms May as a “stop Boris” candidate.