Theresa May rules out early general election or second EU referendum if she becomes Conservative leader

The Home Secretary officially launched her campaign on Thursday

Jon Stone
Thursday 30 June 2016 11:24 BST
May launches leadership bid

Theresa May has officially launched her campaign for Conservative party leader, ruling out calling an early general election or second EU referendum.

The Home Secretary also said the EU's article 50 provision to formally start the Brexit process should not be invoked until next year at the earliest.

She argued that the country needed "strong leadership and a clear sense of direction" in the coming years.

"I want to use this opportunity to make several things clear. First, Brexit means Brexit … the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the backdoor, and no second referendum," she said at a press conference.

"Second, there should be no general election until 2020. There should be a normal autumn statement held in the normal way, at the normal time, and no emergency budget.

"And there should be no decision to invoke article 50 before the British negotiating strategy is agreed and clear, which means article 50 should not be invoked until the end of this year."

She also added that she would not push for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, a policy she previously flirted with.

On freedom of movement, the Home Secretary said that voters had sent a clear message that they wanted restrictions on immigration.

She however said she would like Britain to remain in the single market if it restricted freedom of movement.

All countries with full access to the European single market currently have freedom of movement with the EU as a whole. EU officials have in recent days signaled that this is unlikely to change.

Ms May launched her campaign just minutes after Michael Gove and Andrew Leadsom announced theirs. Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb launched his yesterday.

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, long the favourite to succeed David Cameron, is also expected to enter the fray.

Nominations for the Conservative leadership election close today, having opened yesterday.

MPs need only two nominations each to enter the race. Rounds of voting then take place amongst MPs only, with the weakest candidate knocked out at every stage.

The remaining two candidates are then put to the party membership at large. This is expected to happen in early September.

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