EXCL Tory rising star James Cleverly: I want to be Prime Minister
A rising Tory star has admitted for the first time that he wants to be Prime Minister.
James Cleverly has been tipped as an MP from the new generation of Conservatives who could become party leader.
Speculation about Theresa May's future has been rife at Westminster since she lost her Commons majority at the general election.
In an interview with The House, Mr Cleverly - who has been MP for Braintree since 2015 - said he would "bite the hand off" anyone who gave him to chance to enter Number 10.
But he insisted that he his only focus at the moment was in putting his "shoulder to the wheel" and helping Mrs May keep her government on track.
He said: "I used to play rugby and if I got an England call-up I’d be elated and so now I’m doing the political equivalent of being called up to the England team. I’m a Conservative member of parliament with a Conservative government – it’s like playing rugby but in a political context.
"And if I was wearing an England rugby shirt and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘would you like to captain the team?’ of course you’d bite their hand off. So of course in the same context if you’re passionate about politics and you want to make a difference and someone said ‘do you want to be Prime Minister?’ I think most of us would go ‘oh God, I’d love to do that’.
"So I’d love to be Prime Minister. I would love to but my belief both in politics in particular, and life in general, is that if you want to have a crack at a better job than the one you’ve got, be really good at the one you’re doing.
"The best thing that I and anyone else can do at the moment is shoulder to the wheel, get stuck in, make sure we deliver good government for the British people and start calming the instability we’ve seen recently and get on with the job in hand. If any of us feel that we should be focusing on obsessing on who comes after Theresa, rather than good government, that will be recognised and quite rightly punished."
Many Tories believe Mrs May will be replaced as party leader once Britain leaves the EU in 2019.
But First Secretary Damian Green, a close ally of the Prime Minister, told The Spectator that he believes she will still be in her job by the next election.
He said: "By 2022, she will have a big record of achievement to show.
"I'm optimistic that we'll have a good Brexit deal, and we're determined to pursue a domestic agenda that will show people who may not have previously benefited from Conservative successes can do so.
"Different types of people in different parts of the country. I think people will see that as a success."