Tory MP breaks with tradition by saying he would 'love' to be PM

Written by David Singleton on 29 September 2017 in Diary

James Cleverly has never been the shy and retiring type.

MPs with an eye on the party leadership usually find roundabout ways of hinting that they might possibly be up for it one day in the distant future.

"Of course in politics, you do from time to time sit in the bath and speculate on what it would be like to be running the shop," Tory MP Jesse Norman once told Total Politics.

Jacob Rees Mogg recently refused to deny that he wanted to be prime minister and talked instead about needing a bit more support from fellow Tory MPs: "I think if I threw my hat in the ring, my hat would be thrown back at me pretty quickly."

Most famously, Boris Johnson used to respond to questions about the Tory leadership by saying that he stood ready if "the ball came loose at the back of the scrum".

Now, rising Tory star James Cleverly has taken a radically different approach – by admitting outright that he definitely wants the job.

In an interview with The House magazine, the MP for Braintree employed a new rugby metaphor.

"I used to play rugby… And if I was wearing an England rugby shirt and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘would you like to captain the team?’ of course you’d bite their hand off.

"So of course in the same context if you’re passionate about politics and you want to make a difference and someone said ‘do you want to be prime minister?’ I think most of us would go ‘oh God, I’d love to do that’.

"So I’d love to be prime minister."

Cleverly went on to add the usual caveats that for now he wants to "get on with the job in hand" and that it would be wrong for his party to be "obsessing on who comes after Theresa".

Nevertheless his candour may come as a shock to MPs who prefer to speak in code about these things.

Others point out the Tory backbencher has never been the shy and retiring type, as he made clear during a radio interview in 2015.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live, Cleverley admitted to looking at online porn and then bravely took part in a game of 'snog, marry, avoid'. He chose to avoid journalist Isabel Oakeshott, marry Yvette Cooper and snog Theresa May.


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