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David Davis backs Raab as next Conservative leader

The former Brexit secretary said his successor was the ‘standout candidate’ to make a success of EU withdrawal.

David Davis MP (Victoria Jones/PA)
David Davis MP (Victoria Jones/PA)

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has said he will not run to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, declaring his support for Dominic Raab in the upcoming contest for Conservative leader.

The 70-year-old Brexiteer – who came second to David Cameron in the 2005 leadership contest, but did not put himself forward in 2016 – said the Tories need “a generational change” in leadership.

He said that Mr Raab, 45, was “the best-placed Brexit candidate to win the necessary support among MPs and party members and, above all, broaden our appeal to voters”.

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Brexit-backing Dominic Raab is the ‘standout candidate’ to replace Theresa May as Tory leader, said David Davis (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mrs May has said she will stand down as Tory leader when an EU withdrawal agreement is ratified, handing over to a successor to negotiate the future relationship with the EU. But she has not yet given in to pressure to name a date for her departure.

Following Thursday’s local council bloodbath for Tories, Mr Davis said the party needs a new leader who can deliver a Brexit which is “faithful to the demands of the referendum” and unite Conservatives behind “an optimistic and authentic vision for the future”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he warned that upcoming European elections on May 23 risk being “far worse” than the local elections. And he cautioned Tories that the expected drubbing in the Euro-ballot cannot be brushed off as a temporary protest vote, warning it “may well give us a hint of the reckoning with the voters that will follow”.

I have known and worked with Dominic over the last 13 years so I know he has the vision and personal attributes required to lead us at these crossroads in our history David Davis

“Delivering on Brexit is a necessary condition for seeing off the threat of a hard-Left Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn,” he said.

“But, on its own, it won’t be enough. As Conservatives, we must now also offer a more compelling and inspiring vision for addressing the wider challenges the country faces beyond Brexit.”

Mr Davis said the next leader faces “a real test of character” to make a success of Brexit and take the Tories into a challenging general election.

The new leader will need “focus and drive, a combination of conviction and tenacity”, with the challenge of Brexit alone requiring “a unique combination of intellect, determination, decisiveness and courage”.

“With all these considerations, the standout candidate is Dominic Raab, so I will back him if he runs,” he said.

“I have known and worked with Dominic over the last 13 years so I know he has the vision and personal attributes required to lead us at these crossroads in our history.”

Esher and Walton MP Mr Raab succeeded Mr Davis as Brexit secretary in July 2018, but resigned after just four months in protest at Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

PA

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