Michel Barnier faced a backlash today after blaming Brexit on ‘typically British nostalgia’ for when the country was ‘powerful’.
The EU’s chief negotiator – and potentially the next commission president – gave the dismissive assessment as he warned Tory hopefuls Brussels will not renegotiate the deal it agreed with Theresa May.
The intervention, at a crucial point in the contest to succeed Mrs May, could inflame tensions with the UK once again. Tory MPs said Mr Barnier clearly ‘doesn’t understand Brexit’, saying the comments only underlined why Britain was leaving.
The candidates have been at war over how the government should try to push through the UK’s departure from the EU.
Bitter divisions have erupted between those such as Boris Johnson who say the UK must leave the bloc in October whether or not there is a deal agreed – and Jeremy Hunt who has warned it would be ‘political suicide’.
Chancellor Philip Hammond stepped up the tensions today by threatening to vote no confidence in the government if a new PM tried to force through No Deal.
Asked whether he would help topple a Tory leader in those circumstances, Mr Hammond insisted that the ‘national interest trumps the party interest’.
Current EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned at a summit in Brussels earlier this week that there would be no change to the Withdrawal Agreement thrashed out over nearly three years.
Michel Barnier (pictured on a visit to Athens earlier this month) has blamed Brexit on ‘typically British nostalgia’ for when the country was ‘powerful’
And Mr Barnier underlined the message in an interview with the New York Review of Books today.
‘If the UK wants to leave in an orderly manner, this treaty is the only option,’ he said.
‘If the choice is to leave without a deal — fine. If the choice is to stay in the EU — also fine.
‘But if the choice is still to leave the EU in an orderly manner, this treaty is the only option. This is all that our legal constraints allow.’
Mr Barnier, who is being pushed as a successor for Mr Juncker by French president Emmanuel Macron, dropped diplomatic niceties to give his assessment of why the Brexit vote happened in the UK in 2016.
He pointed to ‘nostalgia’, the City’s reluctance to follow rules, and austerity as key reasons – but did not mention immigration or concerns about sovereignty.
‘Looking at the causes of Brexit, we also find typically British reasons: the hope for a return to a powerful global Britain, nostalgia for the past — nostalgia serves no purpose in politics,’ he said.
‘In my country, too, some politicians still prefer to live in the past. But there were, also, people voting for Brexit who simply don’t want to accept rules.
‘Some based in the City of London voted to leave, as they don’t want to accept the Union’s regulations on their trading; they want to speculate freely and the Union doesn’t allow them to do so.
‘Finally, and most importantly, there are many people who feel abandoned. They feel that the quality of public services, healthcare, transport, is worsening. We must listen to these fears and address them.’
The Frenchman said Eurocrats regretted they had not intervened in the row to ‘correct the lies’. But he said it was now ‘probably too late for Britain’.
‘However, the reasons for Brexit run deeper. We have to take into account the popular sentiment in Britain,’
‘For Britain, it’s probably too late, but it’s not too late for other countries where we have exactly the same problems, including my country,’ he said.
Bitter divisions have erupted between candidates such as Boris Johnson (pictured right in London yesterday) who say the UK must leave the bloc in October whether or not there is a deal agreed – and Jeremy Hunt (pictured left on ITV’s Peston last night) who has warned it would be ‘political suicide
Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured giving a speech in London today) stepped up the tensions by threatening to vote no confidence in the government if a new PM tried to force through No Deal
Current commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured after receiving a medal for enhancing EU cohesion in Germany today) warned at a summit in Brussels earlier this week that there would be no change to the Withdrawal Agreement thrashed out over nearly three years
Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: ‘He knows about as much about why the British voted for Brexit as I know about why the French voted for Macron.
‘What the British people voted for was taking back control and sovereignty.
‘The French don’t understand the British and he doesn’t understand Brexit.
‘That is one of the reasons why we need to come out of the EU.’
The new PM is expected to take over from Theresa May at the end of July – and will face a frantic race against time to come up with a way through the Brexit impasse.
They will have just a matter of weeks to convince Brussels to overhaul the package thrashed out with Mrs May, in a month when the Belgian capital is usually shut down for summer holidays.
Even then they will need to succeed in convincing MPs to back that deal, despite there being no obvious signs of a Commons majority for any outcome.
Tory MPs are increasingly speculating that the final two candidates in the leadership race will be Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who fell out so badly in the 2016 leadership battle that saw Mrs May elected unopposed.
Mr Gove is believed to be hoovering up support from MPs because Jeremy Hunt’s campaign is floundering after he was accused of flip-flopping over No Deal.
Last night the Foreign Secretary told the ITV Peston show said would rather delay Brexit past the October 31 deadline, than pursue No Deal and risk a general election where he predicted the Tories ‘would be wiped out’.
The Tory leadership race gained enough runners for a football team as James Cleverly became the eleventh to join the congested field – with yet more MPs expected to step forward in the coming days.
Asked whether he would rule out joining the race to succeed Theresa May, Mr Hammond said: ‘My position is this: I have a very clear view about these things and I want to make sure my view is represented in this contest.
‘Because my views are quite well known and have been expressed in quite uncompromising terms over a long period of time, I am, perhaps, quite a divisive figure. I would rather that the view I represent is presented in this contest by someone with, perhaps, a fresher face’.
Mr Hammond said he is speaking to candidates individually to find out where they stand.
He added: ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to see this leadership contest going forward with no-one presenting an agenda on the Brexit question that was in line with the views that I hold.’
James Cleverley yesterday announced his candidacy with a snipe at Theresa May as the battle to replace the outgoing turned nasty with a bitter spat between Matt Hancock and favourite Boris Johnson.
The health Secretary launched a brutal salvo at the front runner’s bullish attitude to Brexit as the splits among Conservatives threatened to spiral out of control.
The Health Secretary referred to a remark attributed to Mr Johnson last year where he dismissed concerns about economic damage from cutting ties with the EU by saying: ‘F*** business.’
But Mr Hancock said: ‘To the people who say ‘f*** business’, I say ‘f*** f*** business.”
Mr Cleverly declared he would join 10 other hopefuls vying to succeed Mrs May – making clear he would be willing to take the UK out of the EU without a deal if necessary.
He also played down concerns about his relative lack of experience, swiping that Mrs May had been a very successful Cabinet minister but ‘didn’t fit well with the role of PM’.
Asked by the BBC about the possibility of becoming the UK’s first black premier he said he was ‘very proud that the Conservative Party looks like it might have the first prime minister from a BME background’.
Theresa May was looking for a bit of light relief by attending the cricket world cup opener at the Oval today – but England made a bad start against South Africa
So who will replace Theresa? Bookies’ favourite Boris is ODDS-ON to take May’s crown amid signs a DOZEN former ministers and backbenchers could enter the race to be PM
Boris Johnson is favourite to replace Theresa May’s after her decision to resign on June 7 fired the official starting gun on the race to succeed her.
The long-term favourite has roared into a commanding lead to win the vote to take over as Tory leader and become the Prime Minister who will be faced with delivering Brexit.
But the field in the contest due to take place in June and July is likely to be wide, with more than a dozen ministers, former ministers and backbenchers believed to be ready to run.
Eleven MPs have now said they will run: Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey, Sajid Javid, Kit Malthouse, and James Cleverly.
Sajid Javid is also believed to be considering a run, alongside outsiders including hardline Brexiteer Steve Baker and even Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee.
Here we look at the main runners and riders, with their odds with Ladbrokes and how they voted in the 2016 referendum:
Boris Johnson: The long-running thorn in May’s side who has recently had a ‘prime ministerial’ makeover
Boris Johnson split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds
- Former foreign secretary and mayor of London
- Voted leave and has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer
- As likely to make headlines over his private life
- Has recently lost a lot of weight and smartened up his appearance
- Leadership odds 6/4
The former foreign secretary, 54, who quit last July and has been tacitly campaigning for the leadership ever since. He finally went public last week to confirm he would run.
Never far from the limelight the father-of-four recently split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds, 20 years his junior.
As an increasingly hawkish Brexiteer who says we should not be afraid of leaving without a deal he is hugely popular with the party faithful.
At the start of the year he underwent what might be deemed a ‘prime ministerial’ makeover, losing weight and taming his unruly mop of blonde hair.
Popular with the rank-and-file membership he has fewer fans in the parliamentary party and may face a concerted campaign to block his succession.
Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who quit rather than back Mrs May’s deal
Dominic Raab has become a cheerleader for a hard Brexit since stepping down as Brexit secretary in November
- Shortlived Brexit secretary last year, replacing David Davis in the hot seat
- But walked in November over terms agreed by PM
- Voted for Brexit in 2016
- Leadership odds 4/1
Mr Raab, 45, is another Vote Leave member who became Brexit secretary after David Davis quit alongside Mr Johnson last July over the Chequers plan.
But he lasted just a matter of months before he too jumped ship, saying he could not accept the terms of the deal done by the Prime Minister.
Like Mr Johnson and Mr Davis he has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer, sharing a platform with the DUP’s Arlene Foster and suggesting we should not be afraid of a no-deal Brexit.
The Esher and Walton MP’s decision to quit in November, boosted his popularity with party members but he lacks the wider popular appeal of Mr Johnson.
And like Mr Johnson he might benefit from having quit the Cabinet at an earlier stage and dissociating himself with the dying days of the May administration.
His odds have shortened as he is seen as possibly a more palatable alternative Brexiteer to Boris by MPs seeking to block Mr Johnson’s run.
He recently posed for a glossy photoshoot with wife Erika at their Surrey home.
Michael Gove: The boomerang cabinet minister with a Machiavellian reputation
Michael Gove has made a remarkable political comeback after being sacked by Theresa May in 2016
- Leading Vote Leave figure in 2016 who now backs PM’s Brexit deal
- Former journalist, 51, who stood for leadership in 2016
- Was sacked as education minister by Theresa May
- Later returned as Environment Minister
- Leadship odds 5/1
A Brexiteer with a Machiavellian reputation after the 2016 leadership campaign in which he first supported Boris Johnson for the leadership and then stood against him, to their mutual disadvantage.
The former education secretary – sacked by Mrs May – was rehabilitated to become a right-on environment secretary – complete with reusable coffee cups and a strong line on food standards after Brexit.
Despite being a former lead figure in the Vote Leave campaign alongside Mr Johnson the former journalist and MP for Surrey Heath has swung behind Mrs May’s Brexit deal – which might count against him.
Supports leaving with a deal and while he says a No deal Brexit would come with ‘problems’ he believes the country could get through it.
Seen as one of the Cabinet’s strongest political thinkers and having stood once it is unthinkable that he would not stand again.
He will again be pitched against Mr Johnson in a battle for Brexiteer votes.
Andrea Leadsom: May’s former rival who finally decided she could take no more
Ms Leadsom (pictured today) quit the cabinet yesterday. She is a Brexiteer who frequently clashed with Speaker John Bercow
- The Commons’ Leader challenged May in 2016
- Voted for Brexit
- Hosted Brexiteer ‘pizza party’ plot last year
- Increasingly outspoken Brexiteer
- Leadership odds 12/1
The former Commons’ Leader piled pressure on the Prime Minister by announcing her own resignation from the Cabinet on Wednesday.
In a parting blast, the Commons Leader said she could not stomach the latest version of Mrs May’s Brexit deal, with its offer of a second referendum.
In a brutal resignation letter she said: ‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result.’
It was the final act by an MP whose departure had seemingly been on the cards for months.
Mrs Leadsom, a mother of three, stood against Mrs May for the party leadership in 2016 before conceding defeat before it was put to a vote of MPs.
As collective responsibility largely broke down among ministers she became an increasingly vocal and clear Brexiteer voice in the Cabinet along line similar lines to Mr Johnson and Mr Raab.
She was the host of a Brexiteer ‘pizza party’ in Parliament that included Michael Gove and Liz Truss as the vying wings of the Cabinet plotted to shape the Brexit deal they wanted.
In her role as Commons’ Leader she frequently clashed with Speaker John Bercow over issues including bullying in Parliament.
It is something that will do her no harm among the Tory backbenches where he is widely loathed.
Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer unity candidate who wants to heal the party
Jeremy Hunt, a born-again Brexiteer after supporting Remain, toured Africa last month with wife Lucia
- The Foreign Secretary voted Remain
- But has become an increasingly vocal Brexiteer
- Former health secretary backs May’s deal
- Has approached ministers about running as a unity candidate
- Leadership odds 12/1
The Foreign Secretary who has undergone a Damascene conversion to the Brexit cause and is seen as a safe if uninspiring pair of hands.
The 52-year-old South West Surrey MP has reportedly been selling himself to colleagues as a unity candidate who can bring together the fractious Tory factions into something approaching a cohesive party.
A long-serving health secretary, the father-of three replaced Mr Johnson as the UK’s top diplomat and has won some plaudits over issues like the imprisonment of British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.
But critics point to tub-thumpingly comparing the EU to the USSR at the party conference last year – which was very badly received in Brussels – and a gaffe in which he referred to his Chinese wife as ‘Japanese’ as a reception in China.
Last month he went on a tour of Africa in which his Chinese wife Lucia made a major appearance, after he gaffed by forgetting her nationality.
Last week he called for a ‘decisive’ hike in defence spending to see off the rising threat from Russia and China – in a speech seen as a clear signal of his leadership ambitions.
Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet Mansion House in the City of London, he said the UK’s hard power must be strengthened, with billions more spent on new capabilities to tackle drones and cyber attacks.
Rory Stewart: Remainer rising star and friend of royals who is not short of confidence
The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married
- Penrith MP, 46, is a former tutor to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex
- Old Etonian ex-soldier worked for Foreign Office in Iraq and set up a charity for the Prince of Wale sin Afghanistan
- Voted for Remain and still backs a soft Brexit
- Leadership odds 16/1
The former prisons minister who once vowed to quit if they did not improve within a year declared his candidacy almost as soon as he was promoted to the Cabinet.
He stepped up to International Development Secretary earlier this month to replace Ms Mordaunt and days later declared he will run for the Tory leadership.
The Theresa May loyalist praised the PM for her ‘courageous effort’ to pass her Brexit deal but admitted he would throw his hat in the ring when she steps down.
Urging his party not to ‘try to outdo Nigel Farage’, the development secretary said the Tories should ‘stretch all the way from Ken Clarke to Jacob Rees-Mogg’.
He also lashed out at Mr Johnson at the weekend, saying he would not serve under a No Deal-supporting PM.
The Old Etonian former tutor to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex previously worked for the Foreign Office in Iraq and set up a charity for the Prince of Wales in Afghanistan.
He has also written several books about walking.
The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married.
Seen as highly intelligent his staunch Remainer and soft Brexit credentials look likely to count against him in a race set to be dominated by the Brexiteer wing of the party.
Matt Hancock: Waffle-loving health secretary who wants Tories to choose a younger leader
Then culture secretary Mr Hancock with his wife Martha at the 2018 NME Awards
- The youngest front-runner at 40
- A Remainer who now backs Theresa May’s Brexit deal
- He wants the party to look to the future and attract younger voters
- Leadership odds 20/1
The Health Secretary is, like his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, seen as something of a unity candidate.
The 40-year-old father of three is seen as a safe pair of hands despite a few teething problems in his latest Cabinet role.
Last year he was accused of breaking ethics rules after he praised a private health firm app in a newspaper article sponsored by its maker.
But he has since made some hard-hitting interventions in areas like the impact of social media on health.
Last month he joined Ms Mordaunt in backing the Generation Why? report showing that the Tories needed to become more relevant to younger voters.
He called on the party to change its ‘tone’ towards modern Britain or face Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, in a speech widely seen as setting out his leadership credentials.
This week he showed his human side by unashamedly chomping calorific stroopwafels before a TV broadcast, saying he people should enjoy things in moderation.
Penny Mordaunt: The highly regarded Brexiteer promoted to take on defence
Ms Mordaunt is an outsider for the leadership but is highly thought of in Brexiteer groups
- The MP for Portsmouth North is a Royal Navy reservist
- Highly regarded in Brexiteer circles
- She has been consistently tipped to quit over Brexit but remains in the Cabinet
- Once appeared in a swimsuit in a reality TV show
- Leadership odds 25/1
The new Defence Secretary – the first woman ever to hold the post – is highly regarded in Brexiteer circles.
The Royal Navy reservist, 46, carved out a niche at International Development with some eye-catching suggests about changing how the UK spends disperses aid cash.
She has become an increasingly serious politician after initially being seen as lighthearted when she appeared in a swimsuit in ITV reality TV show Splash!
She was promoted earlier this month to replace Gavin Williamson when he was sacked for leaking details from a confidential meeting about Huawei.
Over the preceding few months she was at the heart of persistent rumours that she would be the next Brexit-supporting minister out the door over Brexit.
She has yet to announce she is running but last month she backed a thinktank report saying the party needed to attract new voters.
She said the party needed to ‘act swiftly’ to win over the younger generations who were turning away from the centre-Right in ‘unprecedented’ numbers.
On Wednesday, after other Cabinet Brexiteers including Andrea Leadsom were notable by their absence during Prime Minister’s Questions, she remained at her post. It remains to be seen whether this loyalty will count for or against her.
Sajid Javid: Remainer star who has run into trouble over knife crime and refugees
Sajid Javid, pictured with his wife Laura, has seen his stock take a hit over the knife crime crisis and migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats
- The most senior cabinet contender
- Voted Remain but wants to see Brexit delivered
- Faced criticism as Home Secretary
- But has taken a hard line on Shamima Begum case
- Leadership odds 33/1
The Home Secretary, a Remainer who wants to see Brexit delivered, was the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet to replace Mrs May.
After replacing Amber Rudd last year he consciously put clear ground between himself and the Prime Minister on issues like caps on skilled migrants after Brexit.
But his credentials have taken a hit recently. He finds himself facing ongoing criticism of his handling of the knife crime crisis affecting UK cities, which sparked a Cabinet row over funding for police.
He also lost face over his handling of the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel in January, being seen to move slowly in realising the scale of the problem.
But more recently the 49-year-old Bromsgove MP has made a serious of hardline decision designed to go down well with Tory voters.
Most notably they have included moving to deprive London teenager turned Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 19, of her British citizenship, after she was discovered among former Islamic State members in a Syrian refugee camp.
Steve Baker: Brexiteer ‘Spartan’ and self-styled ‘hardman’ who refused to budge over Brexit
Brexit ‘hardman’ Steve Baker has previously threatened to leave the Tories over Brexit
- Former Brexit minister who resigned last year
- A member of the European Research Group which has has opposed Theresa May’s deal in every vote
- Threatened to quit the Tories over Brexit earlier this year
- Leadership odds 33/1
The High Wycombe MP, 47, is a Brexit purist who has never backed Theresa May’s deal.
In March he even threatened to quit the party over the issue, saying: ‘We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of No Brexit or this deal.
‘I may yet resign the whip than be part of this.’
The married former RAF engineer officer described himself as a ‘hardman’ in a TV interview this year, only to be shown shortly afterwards in a documentary crying in his office.
Today he told the BBC: ‘There is no point shying away from it, people have been asking me to stand. I have had a degree of support from across the country that I could never have foreseen.
‘I have also had some MPs asking me to stand but I need to face up to the challenge of taking a decision on whether I should do it.’
Sir Graham Brady: Backbench kingmaker with an eye on the throne?
The chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May
- Quit today as chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs
- He went into Downing Street today to tell Mrs May time was up
- But his name was oddly missing from a later statement on leadership
- Leadership odds 50/1
As chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs he has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May.
But he quit that post after nine years today ahead o a possible run for the top job.
Despite being a Brexiteer he has been an independent arbiter, overseeing the no-confidence vote Mrs May survived in December and reportedly opposing attempts to change the rules to dethrone her early.
The married father of two has held several meetings with the PM in recent weeks as the mutiny against her grew and this morning saw her in Downing Street where he told her that her time was up.
But his name was conspicuously absent from a later Conservative Party statement about how the leadership election would happen.
He told the Press Association: ‘I have been approached by a number of colleagues across the party both inside and outside Parliament asking me to put myself forward as a candidate.
‘Therefore I have taken the decision to stand down from the position of chairman of the 1922 Committee in order to ensure a fair and transparent election process.
‘I am considering the approaches I have received and will make a further statement in due course.’
His Brexiteer credentials and honourable display as Mrs May was brought down will count in his favour but he lacks frontbench experience, having a sole three-year stint as a shadow Europe minister 15 years ago on his CV.
Esther McVey: Former TV presenter and minister who quit Government over Brexit
The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer Philip Davies, 47
- The 51-year-old was Work and Pensions Secretary until quitting in November
- She was a presenter on GMTV before entering politics
- Is engaged to fellow Tory MP Philip Davies
- This week launched a ‘blue collar Conservatism’ project
- Leadership odds 50/1
The former Work and Pensions Secretary declared her leadership bid last month and has set out a stall as a right-wing blue-collar candidate from a working class Liverpudlian background.
The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer Philip Davies, 47, having previously had a romance with ex-minister Ed Vaizey. She has no children.
This week she set out her leadership pitch by calling for the party to use £7billion of foreign aid cash on buckling British police forces and schools.
Launching a ‘blue collar conservatism’ campaign the Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust’ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas’ to win it back’.
She said that keeping cash in the UK that is currently sent abroad would allow an increase of £4billion in spending on schools and £3billion for police, which are both demanding more money.And she declined to rule out doing a post-election deal with Nigel Farage – but said that if the Tories got the UK out it would mean that his Brexit Party would have no reason to exist. Speaking in Westminster she reiterated her call for the next party leader to be ‘someone who believes in Brexit’ – a dig at Mrs May, who supported the Remain campaign in 2016.
Kit Malthouse: Self-proclaimed peacemaker who says it is time for a ‘new generation’ to take charge
- Known for his efforts to forge a compromise between Tory Brexit factions
- Entered the Commons in David Cameron’s 2015 election victory
- Served as deputy to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London
- Leadership odds 100/1
Kit Malthouse, who was elected to the Commons in 2015, says it is time for a new generation of politicians to take charge of the Conservative Party
Housing minister Kit Malthouse is best known for his abortive efforts to forge a joint position between Tory Remainers and Brexiteers – which would essentially have meant leaving the EU more slowly but with looser trade ties.
It was modestly labelled as the ‘Malthouse Compromise’.
Now the 52-year-old, who was elected to the Commons in 2015, says it is time for a new generation of politicians to take charge of the Conservative Party.
Previously the Liverpool-born father-of-three served as a deputy to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.
He says his core offer in the contest is a new social contract, ‘a good job, a secure home and a brilliant school. Job, house, school – the foundations of a secure and happy life’.
However, even though Tory leadership contests often throw up surprises, it is unclear whether he will have the support needed to edge out the big beasts.
James Cleverly: Strong media performer who once said he wanted to snog Theresa May
James Cleverly has been seen as a rising star since entering the Commons as part of David Cameron’s surprise win in 2015, as MP for Braintree
James Cleverly has been seen as a rising star since entering the Commons as part of David Cameron’s surprise win in 2015, as MP for Braintree.
Prior to that the 49-year-old was leader of the Conservative group in the London Assembly – although he had a life before politics, serving briefly in the army before injury ended his career, and then working in the publishing industry.
Mr Cleverly was moved up the ranks to Tory Deputy Chairman at the beginning of last year, before getting on the ministerial ladder as the No2 at the Brexit department when Chris Heaton-Harris resigned this spring.
He is known as a good communicator on TV and radio, and is not afraid to be combative on social media.
He is trying to make a virtue of his lack of Cabinet experience, sand says he would be proud to be the first BAME Prime Minister.
Mr Cleverly once said he wanted to ‘snog’ Theresa May as he played a light-hearted game on BBC Radio 5 Live – a desire the PM later complained he had not followed through on.
However, despite being loyal before her resignation was announced, Mr Cleverly has now shown a ruthless streak by swiping that Mrs May was ‘not a good fit’ for the role of PM.