New Forest MPs Desmond Swayne and Julian Lewis declare support for Suella Braverman in battle to be Prime Minister
MPs for the New Forest and Christchurch have all declared their support for Attorney General Suella Braverman as candidates battle to get their names on the ballot paper in the Tory leadership race.
Politicians have been throwing their hats into the ring in a contest to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, with nominations opening this morning (Tuesday) and closing tonight at 6pm. Candidates need the backing of at least 20 MPs if they are to make it onto the ballot.
Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, has announced he will be backing Ms Braverman, who was the first person to launch a bid for the top job.
"Suella combines strong Conservative values and readiness to fight for them with a mastery of detail and excellent communication skills," he told the A&T.
"She was a brave Brexit 'Spartan' and has precisely those qualities of character and leadership which our country both needs and expects."
New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne has also publicly endorsed Ms Braverman, who he said was a "highly effective minister at the despatch box with a clear Conservative vision".
"She has been a robust and effective Attorney General and I have no doubt that she could be a magnificent PM in the mould of Margaret Thatcher," he said.
Sir Desmond said he was also a strong supporter of Kemi Badenoch, another leadership contender, who is the MP for Saffron Walden in Essex.
"Suella was first off the block, so I immediately gave her my support," he explained.
And Christchurch MP Chris Chope will also be voting for Fareham MP Ms Braverman, who he said was a "committed Brexiteer" who would complete the process.
"She has the right solution for that with the Northern Ireland Protocol," he told the A&T.
"As Attorney General, she came up with ways of resolving the problems in relation to illegal immigration and deporting people, and she believes in balancing the books - and that in doing so we must cut expenditure."
Today's ballot will be followed by a series of rounds, beginning tomorrow afternoon, with those candidates failing to receive at least 30 votes being knocked out of the contest.
Ten candidates have formally declared their intention to stand to be the next PM, including foreign secretary Liz Truss, former health secretary Sajid Javid and ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Earlier today, home secretary Priti Patel announced she would not be standing.
The Conservative Party wants to whittle down the list of candidates to a shortlist of two by next Wednesday, who will then face a postal ballot of the wider membership.
New Milton conservative councillor Fran Carpenter has slammed the party for not backing the Prime Minister "when he most needed it".
"You have just carried out the biggest betrayal of the people’s vote in history," she said. "I know not your individual reasons. But you couldn’t see when you had a great thing going, nor the dark influences trying to undermine it all. You fell for it. You reap what you sow."