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Ben Wallace rules himself out of Tory contest as Javid 'urged to step aside for Rishi'
9 July 2022, 12:42 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 13:53
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled himself out of the contest to become the new Conservative leader and Prime Minister, saying his focus is on his current job and "keeping this great country safe".
Mr Wallace, who had been an early front-runner in the race to replace Boris Johnson, now says he does not wish to run as leader.
Instead, he says his focus should remain on his job as defence secretary.
Mr Wallace wrote on Twitter: "After careful consideration and discussing with colleagues and family, I have taken the decision not to enter the contest for leadership of the Conservative Party. I am very grateful to all my parliamentary colleagues and wider members who have pledged support.
"It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe. I wish the very best of luck to all candidates and hope we swiftly return to focusing on the issues that we are all elected to address."
Mr Wallace was widely predicted to be in with a good chance of winning, but amid the war in Ukraine he says his focus is on his current job.
Four contenders have joined the race to become the next leader of the Conservative party, including former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Mr Sunak has enjoyed early support from senior Tories such as Oliver Dowden, Liam Fox and Mark Harper.
It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe. I wish the very best of luck to all candidates and hope we swiftly return to focusing on the issues that we are all elected to address. 2/2— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) July 9, 2022
He promised he would "restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country" if he was the next prime minister.
It's been reported that Mr Sunak has urged the former health secretary Sajid Javid to step aside and join his campaign to become leader of the Conservative party, as the race for the top spot heats up.
The former chancellor, who was one of the first to resign from government this week, is said to be trying to persuade Mr Javid to duck out of the leadership race.
Allies of Mr Sunak have allegedly contacted friends of the former health secretary arguing that they are competing for the same votes, The Times reports.
It's thought the 'secret pact' would pave the way for Mr Sunak, 42, to become prime minister.
The Times has also reported that Sir Gavin Williamson, George Eustice and Sir Robert Buckland, will back Mr Sunak in the coming days.
The endorsement of Williamson, who has also held the role of chief whip, is particularly significant as he endorsed Theresa May and Boris Johnson before they won the leadership.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, chairman of the foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat and former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch have also put their names forward for PM.
Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has put forward a plan for a smaller state and a government "focused on the essentials".
The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes "to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline".
Writing in The Times, she also hit out at "identity politics" and said Boris Johnson was "a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them".
Tory MP Steve Baker speaks to LBC
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, said he was backing Ms Badenoch.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, declared he would enter in January and then repeated his position in the Telegraph on Friday.
He said he was putting together a "broad coalition" offering a "clean start".
Attorney general Suella Braverman has also said she would run, announcing her plans on ITV on Wednesday - before Mr Johnson stepped down.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to put herself in the running in the coming days, along with former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and newly-elected Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.
Former minister Steve Baker, who is backing Attorney General Suella Braverman for Tory leader, claimed Sunak is in an "unfortunate bind" as he has got to "double down" on his own economic policy to date.
Caller stands firm in support of Boris Johnson
The MP for Wycombe told the BBC: "The problem that we've got with Rishi is that he's in a bind that he's got to double down on the policy that he has had.
"I believe that taxes in this country are too high at their current levels, so high that they'll be doing more harm than good at these levels.
"Now, unfortunately, because Rishi's record is of saying he wants low taxes, but then putting them up, he's now got to double down on that record during this campaign. And that leaves him in a very unfortunate bind."
Meanwhile, Tory MP Rehman Chishti has confirmed he is "actively considering" running for PM.
The Tories are reportedly eyeing up a September deadline for the selection of a new Prime Minister amid fears the government is 'paralysed' by the current situation.
Mr Johnson has said he will remain in his post until a successor is elected, but also pledged not to make any major policy changes.
It has led to fears the government will be in a 'state of paralysis' over the coming months.
The Telegraph reports the 1922 Committee executive are drawing up plans to 'whittle down' the number of Tory candidates, therefore speeding up the process of selection with the aim of having a new Prime Minister in office by September 5.