Theresa May gets backing of Foreign Secretary for PM bid

The first round of voting in the Tory leadership takes place tomorrow

Theresa May gets backing of Foreign Secretary for PM bid

UK Home Secretary Theresa May

Theresa May's bid to succeed David Cameron as prime minister has received another boost with the backing of Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond just one day before the first round of voting in the Tory leadership contest.

The Home Secretary is the overwhelming favourite in the race and has already garnered support from senior party figures including Chris Grayling and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Mrs May and rivals Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom - who will formally launch her leadership bid today - are continuing to vie for MPs' support ahead of Tuesday's crucial first round.

In announcing his support for Mrs May's candidacy, Mr Hammond hailed her "determination in standing up to vested interests".

Despite Mrs May failing to meet the Government's target to cut net migration to the tens of thousands, Mr Hammond insisted she was committed to controlling immigration.

He told The Daily Telegraph: "Having worked with Theresa in government for six years, I have seen her determination in standing up to vested interests, her commitment to controlling migration from outside the EU and her tireless work to keep this country safe.

"I know that she has the qualities and the character to take our country forward and, with her quietly determined, down-to-earth style, to reunite us after the referendum, behind a plan to address deep divisions in our society that it has exposed."

It comes amid ongoing recriminations after Mr Gove's decision to skewer Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in the wake of the EU referendum.

Ben Wallace, who ran the former London Mayor’s campaign for the prime ministership, said Mr Gove is unfit to lead the country because he is not trustworthy.

Mr Johnson, meanwhile, has restated his conviction that the decision to leave Europe was in the country's interests.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: "There is, among a section of the population, a kind of hysteria, a contagious mourning of the kind that I remember in 1997 after the death of the Princess of Wales."

Mr Johnson said free trade with Britain is in the economic interests of the EU and that the UK can still lead the way on security matters in Europe.

He added that the "future is very bright indeed" following the referendum vote.

Mrs Leadsom, who has likened herself to Margaret Thatcher, has argued that Mrs May should not become PM as she did not back breaking from Brussels.

But at the weekend, audio emerged of Mrs Leadsom - who backed Brexit ahead of the referendum - speaking three years ago, in which she warned against Britain quitting the EU.

Mrs Leadsom's spokesman initially claimed her comments had been taken out of context and that she was talking about EU reform.

But pressed over her comments later Mrs Leadsom told Sky News she had changed her mind because the facts had changed.