Stephen Crabb has become the first senior Tory to launch a campaign for the party leadership — and the keys to Number 10 — by vowing to curb immigration and make it a “red line” in Brexit negotiations.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, who backed staying in the European Union, said he would work to implement Brexit and there could be no way to “subvert” the process.
He acknowledged he was the “underdog” in a leadership race that is also likely to feature Brexit campaign frontman, Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary Theresa May, but he said the contest should not be a “two-horse race” between the ‘Boris/Stop Boris’ candidates.
Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, is Mr Crabb’s running mate and would become chancellor if the duo succeeded. They hope their “blue-collar Conservative” credentials — both came from modest backgrounds — will provide a contrast to Old Etonian Johnson.
The biggest challenge facing David Cameron’s successor will be negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.
Mr Crabb said: “Today, we face a set of challenges the like of which we have never seen in Britain, a set of problems of almost mind-boggling complexity.
“There is no playbook available that would explain all the manoeuvres and steps that need to be taken to get through this. There is no manual waiting on anyone’s shelf to be dusted down that provides instructions on the way forward.
“There is certainly no candidate in this race who can stand here, today, and provide all the answers.”
Mr Crabb said there could be no “stepping back” from the referendum result and ruled out a second ballot. He said his priority was “controlling immigration, and for us this is a red line. The one message that came through, louder than any other in the vote last week, is that the British people want to control immigration.”
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