REDDITCH MP Rachel Maclean says she is backing Environment Secretary Michael Gove to be the next leader of the Conservative Party – and Prime Minister.
Mrs Maclean, who staunchly supported outgoing PM Theresa May’s three attempts to get her Brexit deal through Parliament, described Mr Gove as the sole unifying figure to bring together the necessary support to see the result of the 2016 Referendum delivered.
“He is a committed Brexiteer,” she said.
“He’s the only candidate in this race who will be able to reach across the divide and bring on board those who voted remain.
“And I know he is a modern, compassionate Conservative who will lead the Party from the centre ground.”
Mr Gove, a Scot, is a former journalist who represents the safe Conservative seat of Surrey Heath.
First elected to Parliament in 2005 he quickly rose through the ranks and was appointed Education Secretary under the coalition government headed by David Cameron in 2010.
However he surprised Mr Cameron by announcing he would campaign to leave the EU in when the 2016 referendum was called.
Then, following the resignation of the PM, and while acting as campaign manager for Boris Johnson’s bid to succeed Mr Cameron, he himself announced he would stand for the leadership, prompting Mr Johnson to withdraw his candidacy.
This led to accusations of him being guilty of political assassination, and Mr Gove did not return to office until 2017 when Mrs May appointed him Environment Secretary.
However in the febrile atmosphere of 2019 and after the European Elections Mrs Maclean said he could command the trust of Leave voters and ‘bring on board’ those who voted Remain.
“We need someone with significant Cabinet experience to grip the ship of state and steer it through Brexit responsibly,” she said.
“The candidate must be able to inspire and renew our domestic agenda and deliver the priorities that are important to voters.
“Vitally important issues like the NHS, social care, our high streets, police, education and equipping young people to get on in life.
For me, for all those reasons above, there is only one candidate who fulfils all those criteria, which is why I’m backing Michael Gove to be the next Prime Minister.”
Other candidates include Bromsgrove MP and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart.