Rifkind likely to stand for Tory leadership

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Indy Politics

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, has set out his stall as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, insisting it was a necessity for the party to reclaim the centre ground.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, has set out his stall as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, insisting it was a necessity for the party to reclaim the centre ground.

Sir Malcolm, who returned to the Commons last month after eight years out of Parliament, described his vision of a one-nation "Britain of our dreams" in a speech to a packed meeting of MPs. He said it was likely he would stand as leader.

Leading figures on the Tory left were out in force, as Damian Green, the former shadow education secretary and another possible contender, used a speech last night to urge the party to use free-market solutions to help Britain's most disadvantaged citizens. He appealed for a "new idealistic consensus" arguing: "We can achieve one-nation goals by pursuing liberal, free-market methods."

Alan Duncan, the shadow Transport Secretary and a further hopeful in a packed field, will make his pitch to the party faithful on Friday. The three men join Kenneth Clarke, Tim Yeo, David Cameron and David Willetts as potential candidates from the left of the Conservative Party to challenge the right-wing frontrunner David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, and Liam Fox, the shadow Foreign Secretary.

Sir Malcolm told Tory MPs yesterday: "New Labour is declining in front of our eyes. A confident, tolerant, moderate Conservativism could replace it...

"We must convince those who think of themselves as liberal and forward-looking that they have more in common with us than with the arid, centralising, bureaucratic preoccupations of Gordon Brown and his ilk. We must campaign on our hopes and not just on our fears. We must enable the public to have a real awareness of what a Conservative Britain would be all about."

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