Duncan Smith gains support for Tory leadership bid

Shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith has won support from Ann Widdecombe after saying he is "likely" to join the race for Britain's Tory leadership.

Shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith has won support from Ann Widdecombe after saying he is "likely" to join the race for Britain's Tory leadership.

Miss Widdecombe said she hoped that Mr Duncan Smith, favoured by some on the right of the party as an alternative to Michael Portillo, could see off the shadow chancellor's leadership bid.

Outside his home in Fulham, west London, Mr Duncan Smith said it is "likely his intention will be to stand" and that he will make a full and clear statement about his decision tomorrow.

Ms Widdecombe stopped short of declaring her voting intentions but, as she left her home in south-east London, she said: "I shall be backing the candidate that will be the best one to take the party forward in the 21st Century."

Asked if Mr Duncan Smith would see off Mr Portillo's challenge, she replied: "I sincerely hope so."

Mr Duncan Smith's comments caused confusion because one of his supporters had already declared he would definitely join the race.

Bernard Jenkin, shadow transport minister, said: "It seems extremely probable, yes he will stand. That is official, I am announcing his candidature."

Speaking about the leadership challenge, Mr Duncan Smith said: "What the Conservative Party needs is to make sure there is continuity and change.

"They need somebody to lead them who wants to do the job and can harness both those aspects."

He believed Europe would be an issue in the leadership race but added that he did not believe it would be a single issue contest, adding: "It is an issue that we now need to find a way of bringing the Party back together around it."

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