I'm not running for leader, says Widdecombe

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Indy Politics

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe today confirmed she would not be a candidate for the Tory leadership, blaming lack of support from fellow MPs for her decision.

Ms Widdecombe said she would have made regeneration of inner city areas one of her top priorities, with some "politically incorrect" policies.

But, speaking in east London, Ms Widdecombe said: "I shall not be putting my name forward."Ms Widdecombe's comments came after shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would be "likely" to stand against Michael Portillo for the Tory leader's crown.

Mr Duncan Smith, speaking outside his London home, said: "Clearly it is likely that my intention will be to stand." He said he intended to make a full and clear statement about his decision tomorrow and stressed he did not intend to comment further today. This caused confusion after one of his supporters had already declared Mr Duncan Smith would definitely join the race.

Bernard Jenkin, shadow transport minister, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It seems extremely probable, yes he will stand. That is official, I am announcing his candidature."

Miss Widdecombe said it would have been one of her top priorities, had she been a leader of the Conservative Party, to address the issues of people living in poverty.

"It is not due to any lack of will on my part or to any lack of encouragement from the voluntary party, that I cannot embark on that candidature," she added. "But rather to a lack of support from my Parliamentary colleagues. And therefore unless Michael Portillo looks like being unopposed, I shall not be putting my name forward.

"I regret very much that the Conservative membership will never even have the opportunity to consider me for the position of leader. Despite so many of them urging me to stand, the rules specify a shortlist of two and it is members of Parliament who will decide those two."

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