Boris the favourite as nine Tory MPs pre­pare to bat­tle for No 10

May cer­tain to de­clare her hand in short­ened race for lead­er­ship that will speed ne­go­ti­a­tions to exit the EU

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Peter Do­miniczak and Christo­pher Hope

NINE Con­ser­va­tive MPs will be­gin a 36-hour scram­ble to suc­ceed David Cameron as Prime Min­is­ter today as they try to amass enough sup­port from back­benchers.

The party’s rul­ing 1922 com­mit­tee an­nounced a trun­cated lead­er­ship timetable which will see a new leader elected by the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber, a month ear­lier than ex­pected.

Boris John­son, the hot favourite, was at­tempt­ing to se­cure the sup­port of Mr Cameron’s most se­nior al­lies, such as Ge­orge Os­borne, the Chan­cel­lor, in an ef­fort to give his cam­paign an unas­sail­able lead.

West­min­ster ob­servers said that the faster timetable would al­low the Gov­ern­ment not to de­lay too long be­fore trig­ger­ing for­mal talks about Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union. It would also give the next leader time to call a gen­eral elec­tion for Novem­ber and win a man­date to gov­ern.

Mr John­son, the for­mer Lon­don mayor, is the clear favourite be­cause of his sup­port among the Tory grass­roots. His al­lies are ac­tively court­ing Cabi­net min­is­ters in­clud­ing Am­ber Rudd, the En­ergy Sec­re­tary, to sup­port him.

There is grow­ing con­fi­dence that Ge­orge Os­borne, the Chan­cel­lor, is close to agree­ing to sup­port Mr John­son’s lead­er­ship bid, by agree­ing to take a role as For­eign Sec­re­tary or con­tin­u­ing in his job at the Trea­sury.

Yes­ter­day Nick Boles, the busi­ness min­is­ter, be­came the first se­nior Cameron ally for­mally to en­dorse Mr John­son’s bid.

How­ever, Theresa May, the Home Sec­re­tary, is cer­tain to run for leader and is build­ing grow­ing sup­port from MPs an­gry at Mr John­son for his con- duct dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum. One se­nior source said Mrs May had an “un­be­liev­ably good chance”, with MPs call­ing her the “stop Boris can­di­date”.

Mr John­son is seen as a highly di­vi­sive fig­ure. One pro-Re­main for­mer Cabi­net min­is­ter said: “To say he is not well liked is an un­der­state­ment.”

In a sign of the ex­tent to which MPs are con­sid­er­ing al­liances it emerged that Stephen Crabb, the Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, was dis­cussing run­ning on a joint ticket separately with Nicky Mor­gan, the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, and Sa­jid Javid, the Busi­ness Sec­re­tary, to win votes from the 2010 in­take.

Liam Fox, the for­mer de­fence sec­re­tary who stood against Mr Cameron in 2005, is also con­sid­er­ing a bid. The Tel

egraph un­der­stands that Tory back­ers have pledged do­na­tions to his cam­paign. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Sec­re­tary, was put­ting feel­ers out at the week­end about his level of sup­port.

Penny Mor­daunt, the armed forces min­is­ter, and An­drea Lead­som, the Trea­sury min­is­ter, who saw their stock rise dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, are also con­sid­er­ing stand­ing.

Nom­i­na­tions open at 6pm tomorrow and close at mid­day on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to the draft ac­cel­er­ated timetable which has to be ap­proved by the party’s rul­ing board today. Tory MPs will then vote on the fol­low­ing Tues­days and Thurs­days to whit­tle the can­di­dates down to two. Those names will be put to a postal bal­lot of 150,000 mem­bers. The win­ner should be an­nounced by Septem­ber 2.

Boris John­son has strong sup­port he en­joys from the Tory grass­roots. Liam Fox may also run for lead­er­ship

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