Liz Truss rules herself out of Tory leadership race and says Britain needs Brexiteer in charge
Cabinet minister Liz Truss has ruled herself out of the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader, saying she does not want to "prolong" the contest.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the next Prime Minister needed to be someone who "backed Brexit from the start" - but stopped short of throwing her weight behind any of the current candidates for the top job.
Ms Truss campaigned for Remain in 2016, but has since said Britain should be prepared to quit the European Union without a deal if necessary.
She told the Sunday Telegraph: "We're now in a critical situation. There's been a short time frame set for the contest and I don't want to be part of prolonging that process."
And she added: "In order to command public trust we need someone who has backed Brexit from the start, because of the situation we're in now."
Those comments could be seen as a dig at Conservative leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart, who all flew the flag for Remain in the run-up to the 2016 vote.
Ms Truss, a vocal proponent of free market economics in the Cabinet, said she wanted the next Tory leader to spell out an "enterprising vision of Britain" as a "go-getting" country.
And the Chief Secretary to the Treasury added: "I support a Canada-style free trade deal and I want to know we're going to be able to get there."
The decision from Ms Truss not to run for the top job comes after Home Secretary Amber Rudd also ruled herself out of the race, saying it was not "my time at the moment" because the party would want the next Prime Minister to be a Brexiteer.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is on Sunday expected to announce his own pitch for the Conservative leadership, while fellow Brexiteers Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom have confirmed that they will join the contest.
Both Mr Raab and Ms Leadsom have said they would be prepared to walk away from the European Union without a deal in October - a move also backed by frontrunner Boris Johnson, who said on Friday that Britain would leave "deal or no deal" on 31 October if he became Prime Minister.