Will she or won’t she? Hastings MP Amber Rudd continues to tease the political establishment, the media and her constituents on whether or not she intends to be a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party when Theresa May eventually stands down.
Ms Rudd has said the she is, ‘not supporting anybody at the moment’ after rampant speculation in the weekend’s ‘papers that she could form a partnership with ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson that would see her become Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Johnson led government. But whoever does win her support will have to be committed to avoiding what she describes as a ‘damaging’ no-deal Brexit.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live today Ms Rudd said it is ‘entirely possible’ she will be in the running to be the next Conservative leader – and likely Prime Minister – saying she was keeping the door ‘slightly ajar’ to the possibility.
Speculation began to surface in recent weeks that Ms Rudd had ruled herself out of a bid for the leadership of the party – her 346 vote majority is seen by many to be a potential stumbling block to any leadership bid.
Leading Conservatives are jockeying for position for the top job after Mrs May said she would make way for a new Conservative Party leader after the terms of the UK’s divorce from the European Union have been agreed.
Asked by Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live if she was planning to be the next party leader, Ms Rudd said: “I am going to continue to support the Prime Minister. She has said, as you rightly say, that she is going to leave after the Withdrawal Agreement or the first stage is through.
“Frankly I think what we should all be doing, which is what I am doing, is trying to support her, making sure that we do just that.
“I don’t have a plan for it (a leadership bid). I am choosing my words carefully here.”
Ms Rudd told the interviewer that she was ‘not particularly working on’ a leadership strategy then added: “I think what I have said is I am not planning to run. I have kept the door slightly ajar but I am not committed to it at the moment.”
Asked who she would pick from the potential candidates already being touted, she said: “…I will sit with my One Nation caucus group of Tory MPs who care so much about compassionate conservatism and we will be interrogating them when the time comes.”
She went on to say that if none of the candidates were judged to be good enough she could then throw her hat in the ring: “That is entirely possible, I don’t rule it out,” she said.
Last month speaking to reporters on the doorstep of her London home Ms Rudd was asked about her leadership ambitions and said: “…no consideration at all of any leadership bid, huge support for the Prime Minister at what is really quite a difficult time.”
The Independent said today that Ms Rudd’s backing will be hugely influential, because she is seen as the figurehead of the One Nation group of Conservative MPs, the counterpoint of the hard Brexit-backing European Research Group.