You’re joking? Not another one? Tory MP Sam Gyimah, who backs a second referendum, entered the party’s leadership contest this morning. This brings the current number of people in the race to thirteen.
Also on the Sunday shows today, Andrea Leadsom argued for her “managed no-deal” Brexit plan. Sajid Javid would not rule out extending Article 50. David Gauke backed Rory Stewart for leader. And Nicky Morgan threw her weight behind Michael Gove.
Jo Swinson defended some of the cuts introduced by the coalition, the US ambassador said the NHS was “on the table” in post-Brexit trade talks and Ann Widdecombe said science might one day have an “answer” to being gay.
Gyimah is running on a platform of holding a second Brexit referendum. He told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday that he would vote Remain. He is unlikely to win much support among Tory MPs or the grassroots.
But he told the programme it was the only way to overcome the “deadlocked” Commons.
“For the Conservative Party what we need to be doing is putting the country first,” he said. “There is a wide range of candidates out there but there is a very narrow set of views on Brexit being discussed,” he said.
Andrea Leadsom, who is running for Tory leader, said she would take the UK out of the EU by the end of October in a “three step plan” for a “managed exit”. The former Commons leader ruled out renegotiating the PM’s deal.
“I think it’s based on the premise that, number one, we have to leave the EU at the end of October, and, number two, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is dead – the EU won’t reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and the UK Parliament won’t vote for it,” she told The BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Leadsom, who backed Brexit in 2016, also ruled out holding a general election this year and said she would not support a second referendum or an alliance with the Brexit Party.
Sajid Javid, who is running for Tory leader, told Marr that he believed the EU would be willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement - including the backstop. Even though the EU has said it is not.
“I will focus on the one Brexit deal that has already got through parliament – that was the withdrawal agreement with a change to the backstop,” he said.
He said as PM he would make a “grand gesture to Ireland” of paying for the “the upfront costs, the running costs” of a “digitised border”.
Javid, repeatedly pressed on whether he would ask for a delay to Brexit beyond the end of October, would not rule it out. Unlike some other leadership contenders.
“That’s not something I would do, but we are a parliamentary democracy and what we’ve seen in the last few months is parliament has taken on some extraordinary powers to initiate its own legislation so if it’s statute, if it’s the law, I would not break the law if I was prime minister, of course I would observe the law,” he said.
David Gauke, the pro-Remain justice secretary, who is not running for Tory leader, threw his support to Rory Stewart.
“I’ve seen his ability to be both strategic and on top of the details as a minister. He’s an excellent communicator, I think he has got an ability to connect with people, I think he has got an ability to bring people together in order to find a way through the Brexit impasse and I think he could win a general election,” Gauke told Ridge on Sunday.
Stewart is unlikely to win the race given his previous strong support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. And Gauke hinted he could transfer his backing to pro-Brexit Michael Gove if and when Stewart is eliminated from the contest. “I have a very high opinion of Michael,” he said.
Nick Morgan, the former education secretary who backed Remain, this morning explained her support of Gove.
“I think that Michael, based on his cabinet experience, the fact that he led the vote leave campaign, is ready to lead and to bring some reality to this debate but also to deliver on Brexit, which is what we need to see happen,” she told BBC Radio 5′s Pienaar’s Politics.
Jo Swinson, who is running for Lib Dem leader, told Marr the coalition government of which she was part “did need to make cuts”.
The line of questioning showed the vulnerability the Lib Dems could still have to allegations from Labour they got into bed with the Conservatives.
However Swinson’s rival for the leadership of her party, Ed Davey, was also part of the coalition government.
And she told Marr “of course” she regretted some of the public spending cuts introduced after 2010.
“The bedroom tax would be an example, where it just was not the right policy, we shouldn’t have let that through,” she said.
And she dismissed as “absolute nonsense” the allegation the Lib Dems were essentially the “pro-Remain wing” of the Tory party.
Donald Trump arrives in the UK this week. Which is going to be - interesting.
Woody Johnson, the US ambassador, said the NHS would be “on the table” for any US-UK trade deal.
“Your national healthcare service is the pride of the country. It’s a highly emotionally charged issue,” he told Marr.
Marr asked him: “Do you feel that healthcare has to be part of the deal?”
“I think probably the entire economy, in a trade deal all things that are traded will be on the table,” Johnson replied.
Pressed if this included healthcare. The ambassador added: “I would think so.”
Ann Widdecombe, one of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party MEPs, used an appearance on Ridge to argue “science” might one day provide an “answer” to being gay.
“I do not imagine for one moment that the Brexit Party will be putting forward a policy on gay sex changes in its manifesto,” she added.