Richard Benyon backs Theresa May for next Conservative leader
"We don't need someone who polarises opinion"
NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has announced that he is backing Theresa May to be the next Prime Minister.
The Home Secretary, who supported Remain in the EU referendum, staked her claim to be the next leader of the Conservative Party in another tumultuous day in British politics yesterday (Thursday).
Mr Benyon said that he had always had a high regard for the Home Secretary, along with fellow front-runner and work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb.
"But the more the more I thought about it the more I think we need somebody now who has experience at the top of government, who is able to bring the party and country together and negotiate in a clear position on our future relationship with Europe," Mr Benyon said.
Yesterday saw Leave campaigner and former mayor of London Boris Johnson, who was widely tipped to be a front-runner in the contest, surprisingly announce that he was not putting himself forward.
Mr Johnson's decision not to run, came hours after fellow Leave campaigner and Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced that he would be standing for party leader.
Mr Benyon said his decision to back Mrs May had followed "the shambles of the last 48 hours" between Mr Johnson and Mr Gove.
"It doesn’t look great when a campaign has got so far to the point where one of the front-runners is on the way to make their formal announcement and then it all falls apart," Mr Benyon said.
"I just think now is the time for calm and experience and I think Theresa offers that."
Mr Benyon said that he had already told Mr Johnson that he would not be supporting him and was therefore not waiting on the outcome of yesterday's events.
When asked whether he thought a Remain supporter would be best for the country following the Referendum result to leave the European Union Mr Benyon said that Mrs May would be the best person for the job.
"I would have been happy to support a member of the leave campaign if they had the right credentials," he said.
Mr Benyon added that Mrs May had set out a clear approach to dealing with Brexit which he thought the whole party could get behind regardless of how they voted.
"There will be some dark times ahead; it’s not going to be an easy path to some bright sunlit upland were we have all the benefits and none of the downside.
"It’s going to be really tough and it doesn’t matter that she was on the remain side, she conducted herself very professionally throughout. I hope all members can get behind her.
"This is about more than party politics this is about the livelihoods of people and their families."
While saying that Mr Johnson and Mr Gove were exceptional MPs Mr Benyon said: "The job of being Prime Minister requires an enormous variety of skills and at a time like this we don’t need someone who polarises opinion, we need someone who unites opinion."
Mr Benyon's decision follows the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, and the MP for Devizes, Claire Perry lending their support to Mrs May.