Tobias Ellwood lost his temper after being quizzed on whether he would run in the Tory leadership contest. The Defence Minister argued it is “not a TV reality contest”, before Ms Ridge remarked he sounded “quite frustrated”. The Sky News host asked: “Are you going to run?” Mr Ellwood repeated: “Am I going to run?”
Ms Ridge hit back: “Straight question, straight answer.”
The Tory MP for Bournemouth East raged: “I’ll give you astraight answer, I don’t have the rank and I don’t have the experience. I am not going to run and this isn’t a TV reality contest.
“Your introduction just prompted me to think, how does it look to the nation when we’ve just spoken on the biggest issue, Brexit.”
Mr Ellwood then picked up a glass of water before continuing: “And take Brexit, if this was Brexit or the decision of Brexit and you remove it from the table, you actually have a nation where the economy is going well. Better than Japan, better than Germany. From climate change, best in the G20, inflation targets under control, employment doing really well.
“All of that is brilliant. Put Brexit back on the table and it all disappears. What we are doing to Britain, our reputation is actually being affected by Brexit. Look at the polls, not from here but the results of the local elections.”
The Sky News presenter contended: “The leadership absolutely matters when it comes to Brexit. Because whoever is the next leader of the Conservative Party is going to take the UK potentially in very different directions.
“So who would you like to see as the next leader?”
Mr Ellwood replied: “Let’s have some loyalty, let’s have some commitment, let’s have some discipline in focusing on the one thing, pulling at my glass here, the one thing that we need to get across the line which is Brexit.
“The idea that we jump ahead and start toying around with who should be the leader, and then everybody, you talk about the Grand National, I do urge my colleagues to think why are they putting their name forward. Is to it to raise their own profile?
“And some colleagues as well are changing their views in order to woo our membership, to raise their profile as well. This is getting things in the wrong order.
“Our focus must be to get Brexit across the line. Get that out the way so we can then have a bigger, wider debate as to how we should earn the respect of the nation.
“To be a one nation, progressive party, centre-right, fiscally responsible, able to take the nation forward. And most importantly, engage with a younger generation, which we’re failing to do.”
Ms Ridge remarked: “You sound quite frustrated.”
The Tory minister agreed: “I am frustrated, I really am.”
Theresa May has said she will bring the Withdrawal Bill before MPs for its second reading vote in the first week of June – with the vote possibly coinciding with US President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK.
The Prime Minister will then set out her exit timetable whether she delivers Brexit or not, which will likely trigger a leadership bid within the Conservative Party before the end of the summer.
Nigel Evans, the executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, has urged multiple times the Prime Minister to quit as soon as possible for the sake of the party.
He said: “You can watch the movie Titanic a hundred times, but I’m afraid the ship sinks every time.
“An increasing number of Conservative MPs – even those who voted for it a second or third time – are saying enough is enough.”
Mrs May’s “bold offer” comes after the talks between Labour Party and her Government collapsed on Friday.
Published at Sun, 19 May 2019 08:59:00 +0000