Update: Who Sussex MPs are backing in Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson opening an exhibition, Predators and Prey, at Waddesdon Manor
Boris Johnson opening an exhibition, Predators and Prey, at Waddesdon Manor

Sussex MPs have begun revealing who they are backing to be leader of the Conservative Party after nominations closed yesterday (Thursday, June 30)

Stephen Crabb, Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox and Michael Gove are in the frame to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, after he resigned in the wake of last week’s Brexit vote.

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson – the initial favourite – said he would not stand yesterday, minutes before nominations closed.

Of the Sussex MPs to declare their position, five have backed May, with Stephen Crabb, Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove each supported by one MP.

Backing for Boris had included support from the likes of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb and Mid Sussex’s Sir Nicholas Soames.

Sir Nicholas will now back Theresa May – having supported Mr Johnson standing alongside Michael Gove.

Mr Gove announced his candidacy in a surprise move yesterday.

Mr Gibb said: “Michael Gove is the man the party and country can trust to deliver Brexit. He’s a passionate believer in social justice and a true reformer.”

Elswhere, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton praised energy minister Angela Leadsom, as the ‘real deal’ who could ably handle Britain’s Brexit deal.

He said she would be a ‘fantastic leader’.

Speaking on BBC Daily Politics on Friday he said Mrs Leadsom was his ‘closest friend in politics’, predicting she would be one of the final two candidates alongside Theresa May.

He added: “She is highly regarded in the City and has been over six years in parliament and been a very successful and repeatedly promoted miinster as well.

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, has backed outsider Stephen Crabb, while Mrs May has received support from Kemptown’s Simon Kirby.

Mr Kirby said: “I believe that Theresa May is the strongest candidate to become Prime Minister in these difficult times. She is a highly competent politician and has visited me in Brighton Kemptown in the past and seen what a special place our constituency is. We need someone with her experience to unite and lead us.”

Eastbourne and Willingdon’s Caroline Ansell this afternoon added her name to the growing list supporting Mrs May, while Wealden’s Nusrat Ghani followed suit.

Mrs Ansell said: “I have decided I will support Theresa May in the forthcoming leadership contest. In these challenging times, I firmly believe she has the experience and credibility to be an excellent Prime Minister.

“Her authority is unmatched and as such she will command the respect of the House of Commons and the confidence of the public.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd joined those supporting Mrs May late on Thursday.

The likes of Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley have declined to publicly back a candidate.

Mr Bottomley said: “We know that some of the most successful and important Prime Ministers were not obvious choices before a contest. They include Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron.

“I trust we are as fortunate this year.”