Tory leadership candidates pay tribute to Theresa May as race begins to succeed her
Tory leadership hopefuls have paid tribute to Theresa May as they began positioning themselves for the race to succeed her as Prime Minister.
Bookies' favourite Boris Johnson was among the first to react to Mrs May's announcement that she she will step down on 7 June as Conservative leader.
He paid tribute to her "dignified" statement and "stoical service" to the country and party.
Mr Johnson added: “It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”
Dominic Raab, who is also set to throw his hat into the ring to succeed Mrs May, said: “Dignified as ever, Theresa May showed her integrity.
“She remains a dedicated public servant, patriot and loyal Conservative.”
Andrea Leadsom, who resigned as Commons leader on Wednesday and retains leadership ambitions, said: "A very dignified speech by Theresa May. An illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best."
Another potential leadership contender, Liz Truss, thanked the Prime Minister for her “huge resilience at this difficult time”.
Brexit minister James Cleverly said it was “sad and disappointing that it has come to this”.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who told the Prime Minister on Thursday that she mist ditch the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, said delivering Brexit was always going to be a “huge task”, but that Mrs May had met it with “courage and resolve”.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who, like Mr Hunt, will definitely run in the leadership race, praised the Prime Minister for her dedication to the country, adding: "Nobody could have worked harder or had a greater sense of public duty than the Prime Minister."
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who is pondering a tilt at the top job said: “The Prime Minister has shown great courage. She is a public servant who did all she could to bring Brexit to a resolution.
"Her sense of duty is something everyone should admire and aspire to."
And Evironment Secretary Michael Gove said: "A moving speech from a Prime Minister who deserves our respect and gratitude. Thank you Theresa May."
Meanwhile, Mrs May's predecessor David Cameron paid tribute to her "strong and brave" resignation statement.
He said: "Theresa is right that compromise is not a dirty word and she should be thanked for her tireless efforts on behalf of the country.
"I know how painful it is to accept that your time is up and a new leader is required. She has made the right decision and I hope that the spirit of compromise is continued."
The leadership race will formally begin on 10 June, with a new Prime Minister expected to be in place by the middle of July.
Analysis from the ConservativeHome website reveals Mr Hunt already has the support of 27 Tory MPs, followed by Mr Johnson on 19, Mr Raab on 13, Mr Gove on 12 and Mr Javid on 10.