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The revelations were made by the Conservative MP for Braintree, James Cleverly, and come as a stark warning to Theresa May’s fragile leadership of the party.
In an exclusive interview with Politics Home, Cleverly said:
I used to play rugby and if I got an England call-up I’d be elated and so now I’m doing the political equivalent of being called up to the England team. I’m a Conservative member of parliament with a Conservative government – it’s like playing rugby but in a political context.
And if I was wearing an England rugby shirt and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘would you like to captain the team?’ of course you’d bite their hand off. So of course in the same context if you’re passionate about politics and you want to make a difference and someone said ‘do you want to be Prime Minister?’ I think most of us would go ‘oh God, I’d love to do that’.
So I’d love to be Prime Minister. I would love to but my belief both in politics in particular, and life in general, is that if you want to have a crack at a better job than the one you’ve got, be really good at the one you’re doing.
Despite his comments, the Braintree MP – who also recently said that people who want to give nurses a pay rise are as bad as Stalin – told Politics Home that he thinks Tory MPs who engage in sniping at the current leadership deserved to be ‘punished’, hypocritically stating that:
If any of us feel that we should be focusing on obsessing on who comes after Theresa, rather than good government, that will be recognised and quite rightly punished.
And, in a somewhat confusing and blatantly self-serving tweet, Cleverly said that whilst he’d love to be Prime Minister we should support Theresa May for now.
Yes, I'd love to be PM, but our job now is to support the PM we've got and deliver for the British people. https://t.co/SbbQIWpq93
— James Cleverly MP (@JamesCleverly) September 29, 2017
With the Conservative conference due to start on Sunday in Manchester, the perpetual Tory big hitters such as BoJo and Phillip Hammond will be keen to set out their stall as a potential successor to Theresa May, and Cleverly’s latest comments appear to be his attempt at testing the water to gauge reaction.
Loyalty in the Tory party has never particularly strong given the self-serving nature of their ideology, and this year’s Conservative conference is shaping up to be a demonstration of exactly how bad party unity has become since their disastrous General Election campaign.
And with any lingering support for Theresa May’s leadership plummeting to new depths after her speech in Florence, it surely is only a matter of time before on of the likely contenders takes the plunge and forces a leadership contest to oust the lame duck Prime Minister.
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