Matt Hancock says he will stand for Tory leadership

Damien Gayle

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has become the latest cabinet minister to declare he will stand for the Tory leadership after Theresa May’s resignation.

“Yes. I’m going to run to be the next prime minister,” Hancock told the BBC on Saturday morning. He said he would be “the servant of parliament” in delivering a Brexit deal – a conundrum that destroyed May’s leadership.

Related: May's emotional farewell kicks off battle for Tory leadership

Hancock, 40, joins a long list of prominent Conservatives vying for the leadership of the party – and, by default, the country – including Boris Johnson, Rory Stewart, Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab.

The international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has refused to rule himself out as a candidate.

Asked if he would stand, Fox told the BBC: “Well, I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but, as you say, it’s an unusual contest.”

Despite May’s troubles in winning over enough MPs for her Brexit deal, Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme that a majority of the Commons wanted to leave the EU, but that there had been “disagreements on how”.

(May 24, 2019) 

Theresa May announces she will step down on 7 June. Tory leadership hopefuls immediately begin jockeying for position.

(May 26, 2019) 

The European parliamentary election results to be announced, with the Tories expecting a disastrous result for the party. Some MPs have even suggested they may end up with no MEPs, with polls showing Conservative support to be under 10%.

(June 3, 2019) 

Donald Trump will arrive in the UK for a state visit. The US president, not known for his tact, will be spending time with the outgoing prime minister and the royal family during his visit.

(June 6, 2019) 

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings will see May, Trump and other world leaders gather in Portsmouth and Normandy.

(June 7, 2019) 

Theresa May will formally resign as Conservative leader – officially triggering a leadership contest.

(June 15, 2019) 

Conservative MPs will whittle those standing to be leader down to two candidates in a series of votes overseen by the 1922 Committee. After each vote, the lowest-ranked candidate drops out of the race, until two contenders remain.

(July 15, 2019) 

A ballot of the 120,000 or so Conservative party members will choose between the final two candidates. All polling of grassroots Tories suggests that were he to be on the ticket, Boris Johnson would most likely win.

(September 29, 2019) 

The new leader will attend their first Conservative party conference as the prime minister.

(October 31, 2019) 

The UK will leave the EU without a deal, unless parliament and the new PM have either passed a withdrawal agreement, accepted another article 50 extension from the EU, or revoked article 50 altogether.

He rejected suggestions that a general election should be held, saying it would be “a disaster for the country” and would risk “Corbyn by Christmas”.

Speaking on the same programme, Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, who will not be standing for the top job, said she would work with any prospective leader who could find the centre ground that would unify parliament behind Brexit, but refused to name anyone.

She also dodged questions about Johnson. Asked whether she thought him an honest politician, she replied: “There are some good candidates out there.”

“I’m not going to start maligning any of my colleagues,” Rudd said. “We’ve got a leadership race on. This is a really serious moment for our country.”

Nor would Rudd be drawn into commenting on May’s record as home secretary, even when goaded with the mention of the controversial hostile environment policies that led to deportations of people to the Caribbean who had lived in the UK for decades. Instead, she preferred to highlight May’s impact on raising the ambitions of young women in politics.

She said: “I will leave other people to make their points. My point on the day after she stepped down is to highlight the really powerful impact she had.”

Earlier, Stewart said he could not serve in a government led by Johnson, who has pushed for a no-deal Brexit. Johnson has said he would take the country out of the European Union by October, “deal or no deal”.

Related: 'Broken by Brexit': what the papers say about May's farewell speech

Stewart, the international development secretary, told Today: “I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit; I could not serve with Boris Johnson.”

With Nigel Farage’s Brexit party expected to perform strongly when the results of the European elections are revealed on Sunday night, prime ministerial candidates will come under intense pressure to take a tough stance on Brexit.

In a statement outside 10 Downing Street on Friday morning, May said: “It will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.” She insisted, however, that she had pursued the right strategy until the end.

Nominations for the leadership contest will close in the week of 10 June, with MPs involved in a series of votes to whittle down candidates to a final two contenders. Tory party members will then decide who wins the runoff.