Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launches Conservative leadership bid
Grant Shapps said he will end 'tactical government by an often distracted centre'
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a Conservative Party leadership bid saying he will end “tactical government by an often distracted centre”.
Mr Shapps becomes the second serving Government minister to kick off their campaign for the leadership, after Attorney General Suella Braverman declared her intention on what turned out to be the eve of Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Launching his campaign in the Sunday Times, Mr Shapps said he wants to rebuild the economy so it is the biggest in Europe by 2050, and address the cost-of-living crisis.
He said he believes in the spirit of levelling up, but the state should “get out of the way” in some areas.
Mr Shapps said: “I do think we have lost sight of what we should be about as a Conservative government.
“We should trust people and allow them to spend their money as they wish.
“We must map a clear path to lower taxes, not just expressing good intentions.
“Covid witnessed a necessary and extraordinary expansion of state spending and a quite unprecedented level of state interference in people’s private lives.
“As Conservatives, we should tolerate the unnecessary continuation of neither.”
The newspaper said it is anticipated that Mr Shapps will launch his campaign website, as well as list his supporters, in the coming hours.
The MP added he was ruling out a general election, and saying he would produce an emergency budget, instructing his chancellor to cut personal tax for the most vulnerable and giving state support to firms with high levels of energy consumption.
He said: “I have not spent the last few turbulent years plotting or briefing against the Prime Minister. I have not been mobilising a leadership campaign behind his back. I tell you this: for all his flaws – and who is not flawed? – I like Boris Johnson. I have never, for a moment, doubted his love of this country.”
Mr Shapps added: “It is easy to criticise Boris after keeping one’s head down for years while being happy to benefit from his patronage. I am glad that I did not do that.
“Even as the skies darkened over his premiership, often because of errors committed by him, I hoped he could pull it back. Because in losing him, we would lose a man who makes a unique connection with people.”
So far ministers past and present have thrown their hats into the ring, but Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced that after “careful consideration” and discussion with colleagues and family, he will not be running to be leader and the next prime minister.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, Attorney General Suella Braverman, ex-minister Kemi Badenoch and senior Tory Tom Tugendhat have all launched their bids with further announcements anticipated over the coming days.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is widely expected to stand, while other potential front-runners include trade minister Penny Mordaunt, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, and former health secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.
It was reported on Saturday that Boris Johnson intends to stand down as Prime Minister on Monday in order to run again for Tory leader.
But this suggestion was knocked down by a spokesperson for Mr Johnson as completely untrue.
Tory MP Mark Francois has said he believes at least 12 people will put their names forward.
He told GB News: “I haven’t yet decided who I am going to vote for.
“It looks like this is going to be the Grand National but without the fences, so we are probably heading for at least a dozen candidates at the moment.”