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It was common knowledge in political circiles that May, a Tory party heavyweight, would throw her hat into the ring, but Gove was widely expected to support former London mayor Boris Johnson for the job.
“I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris [Johnson] cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” Gove wrote in a column announcing his leadership bid on the Spectator magazine’s website.
Gove added, “I have repeatedly said that I do not want to be Prime Minister. That has always been my view. But events since last Thursday have weighed heavily with me.”
May calls for strong leadership
May, 69, said shortly after Gove’s statement at a press conference announcing her candidacy, “our country needs strong proven leadership” which includes negotiating “the best possible terms” for the UK leaving the EU.
The Home Secretary also said there should be no decision to invoke Article 50 before the end of this year when the UK’s negotiating terms are clear.
“Brexit means Brexit,” she also said. “There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum.”
May also said there should be no national election before 2020, the scheduled date for the end of the current parliament, and that there should be no emergency budget measures to offset hte sock to the market and economy due to Brexit.
Prominent Brexiter and junior energy minister Andrea Leadsom also announced her bid for the Conservative Party leadership on Thursday.